Jeralean Talley of Inkster, in the Detroit area of Michigan, is the person the Gerontology Research Group (GRG) considers the oldest in the world. Talley celebrated her 116th birthday on Saturday at a restaurant in Inkster. She will also celebrate her birthday at her church, the New Jerusalem Missionary Baptist, on Sunday.
Talley took the title of world’s oldest person from Gertrude Weaver, who died in April.
According to the Detroit Free Press, some have claimed to be older than Talley, but Robert Young, who manages the GRG Supercentenarian Research and Database Division, said, “Ms. Talley’s the oldest person in the U.S. and world— at this point in time— that we have proof for.”
“You’re more likely to the win the lottery than to reach this age,” Young added.
Talley was born in Montrose, Georgia on May 23, 1899. She moved to Michigan in the 1930s. Her husband of 52 years, Alfred, died in 1988 at the age of 95.
She tended her garden, mowed her lawn, and continued bowling until she was 104.
She still fishes and plans to go on a fishing trip this summer. Her only child and daughter Thelma Holloway, 77, insists that her mother still has a “sharp mind.”
“She’s still in her right mind… She’s doing OK health wise,” Thelma said.
Talley gives the credit for her longevity to God and admits honestly that she does not have much advice to give about the “secret of long life,” saying, “There is nothing I can do about it.”
However, for those who must take advice for the world’s oldest person, she recommends her personal philosophy, which, according to her godson, Tyler Kinloch, 21, is “treat people how you want to be treated.”
Tyler, who fishes with her, added, “Her No. 1 rule is to treat people how you want to be treated. I definitely carry that with me every single day.”
She also told 7 Action News that she does not eat butter and avoids putting cream in her coffee, if you think that helps.
She received $116, a dollar for each year of her life, at a special event held on Thursday, May 21, 2015, at the Inkster District Office of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to celebrate her birthday.
The longest-serving member of the House of Representatives, Rep. John Conyers, 86, was present at the event and delivered a special message from President Barack Obama.
The president expressed his “warmest wishes” and extolled “the breadth” of her experience and “depth” of her wisdom acquired in the course of her long life.
“The breadth of your experiences and depth of your wisdom reflect the long path our Nation has traveled since 1899. During this time, there have been setbacks and breakthroughs, false starts and improbable victories, and through it all our country’s spirit has endured — strengthened and enriched by each generation.”
She told the crowd that gathered at the ceremony to honor her extraordinary feat of longevity, “I thank you very, very, very, very much.”