Happy 114th Birthday to Jeralean Talley, The Oldest Living American!

What's the supercentenarian's secret? Be nice, worship God, and eat pigs' feet.

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Courtesy of Michael Kinloch

Jeralean Talley and godson Tyler Kinloch pictured with one of the seven catfish she caught at the Trout Farm in Dexter, Mich., on June 16, 2012.

Be nice, worship God and eat pigs’ feet: That’s how Jeralean Talley of Inkster, Michigan says she lived to celebrate her 114th birthday today — and be crowned the oldest person in the United States. Using census records, the Gerontology Research Group verified her title after the previous oldest American, Elsie Thompson, died at 113 in March. Talley is still a youngster, relatively speaking, compared to the world’s oldest person, Jiroemon Kimura, who is 116 and lives in Japan.

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In a phone conversation on the eve of her 114th birthday, Talley told TIME, “I feel okay.” These days, the supercentenarian lives with her daughter Thelma Holloway, 75, and says she passes the time by watching The Ellen DeGeneres Show and Wheel of Fortune as well as listening to baseball on the radio – though she doesn’t have a favorite team. She can stay up as late as midnight and feasts on her favorite foods: potato salad, honey buns, McDonald’s chicken nuggets and Wendy’s chili.

Holloway says her mother stayed active over the years by sewing dresses, making quilts and playing the slot machines at casinos. She also bowled until she was about 104 and her legs got too weak – but not before scoring 200 in one game. Now Talley, who sits all day, tries to work out by waving her arms in the air and kicking her feet. Twice a year, she goes fishing for catfish and trout with her friend Michael Kinloch, 54, an engineer she met at church in 1990. “She literally throws her line in, and I’ll run over and try to pull in the fish,” he says. “We do that routine until she gets tired of it, and then we’ll head home.”

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Courtesy of Michael Kinloch

Jeralean Talley (center), her daughter Thelma Holloway (back), fishing buddy Michael Kinloch (right) and his son and Talley’s godson Tyler Kinloch (left), at the supercentenarian’s 113th birthday celebration last May 2012.

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Jeralean Kurtz was born in rural Montrose, Georgia on May 23, 1899, on a large farm where she spent long hours picking cotton and peanuts and digging sweet potatoes out of the ground until sunset. In 1935, she moved to Michigan, and a year later, she married Alfred Talley. They lived in Inkster and were wed for 52 years before he died on October 17, 1988, at the age of 95. She boasts three grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren, four great-great-grandchildren, and is the godmother to Kinloch’s 19-year-old son Tyler. When she met Tyler for the first time as a newborn, she put a $5 bill in his tiny fist. “God told me that when your child is born, I should give him $5,” she said, according to Kinloch.

Talley always says, “do unto others as you desire them to do unto you,” and insists that’s the secret to living a long life. Also, eating plenty of pork. Every Christmas, she bakes Kinloch a Hog’s Head Cheese – which doesn’t have cheese, but is basically pigs’ ears and feet in a jelly stock. “I personally feel like it’s one of those things that kind of keeps her going,” he says. He may have a point. Last month, a 105-year-old woman in Texas claimed that bacon was her secret to longevity. Talley is also known for her sweet tooth and has made friends walnut pie with walnuts from the walnut tree in her backyard.

On Sundays, you can find the devout Christian at New Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church – front and center in a seat specially saved for her. In fact, this Sunday, in honor of Talley’s 114th birthday, the church will christen its driveway “Mother Jeralean Talley Drive.” After services, there will be a special luncheon at its recreation center. The White House even sent a letter to be printed in the program, says Christonna Campbell, 56, who sits on the church’s board and has been organizing Talley’s birthday parties since she was 95. No doubt the congregation will snap as many pictures of the supercentenarian as possible because, Campbell says, “the only time she will allow us to snap a picture of her is on her birthday.”

8 comments
1944forgeking
1944forgeking

Isnt though incredible that we are witness ,and further more sharing the earth and times with people who were born when cowboys and Indians still roamed freely. We have elderly who were children when the great unsinkable Titanic disaster happened or When horses were the normal way of transportation for most people.

just incredible. And the day will soon come when we cant find anyone who was born in 1899,1900 or 1901.

AbrahamYeshuratnam
AbrahamYeshuratnam

JEANNE DIES AT !22

Jeanne Calment came from a bourgeois family and never has to work.  Her husband, a cousin, was a prosperous storeowner who offered her a life of ease revolving around tennis, bicycling, swimming, roller skating, piano and opera. The lifestyle of Jeanne while she was with her husband was definitely a luxurious one with non-vegetarian food for dinner. After her husband’s death, she was living with her daughter and grandson. They were all traditional non-vegetarians like other French families. .  Her only daughter died in 1934 at the age of 36 of pneumonia.   After the death of her daughter Calment raised her grandson, who became a medical doctor and died in 1963 during a car accident.

According to media reports Jeanne’s birthdays were a sort of family holiday in Arles, where all the people of Arles gathered around their “Jeanne D’Arles”.  In such birthday parties when all the villagers took part, varieties of meat were consumed and in such a French dinner  it included : poulet(chicken),pigeon(squab),dinde(turkey),canard(duck),oie(goose, the source offoie gras),bœuf(beef),veau(veal),porc(pork),agneau(lamb),mouton(mutton),lapin(rabbit),caille(quail),cheval(horse),grenouille(frog), andescargot(snails). Commonly consumed fish and seafood includecod,canned sardines,fresh sardines, cannedtuna, fresh tuna,salmon,trout,mussels,herring,oysters,shrimpandcalamari.. Jeanne and all the Aries people who enjoyed her birthday dinner were all non-vegetarians.

thewholetruth
thewholetruth

May God continue to BLESS this wonderful Woman.  

AbrahamYeshuratnam
AbrahamYeshuratnam

Jeraleen Talley is another living example of how non-vegetarians have long lifr, compared to vegetarians. Swami Vivekananda, an exponent in yoga and a strict vegetarian, died at the age of 45; whereas Churchill, a great lover of non-vegetarian food and whisky, a cigar smoker, lived upto the ripe age of 95. TIME magazine reports that Jiroemon Kimura, who is 116 , lives in Japan., and she is now the world's oldest person. Japanese are non-vegetarians and they eat a lot of fish. Life span of Indians who are vegetarians is very short compared to non-Vegetarian Europeans.  Jeralean Talley's life is an inspiration to non-vegetarians and we should not be carried away by the false propaganda of yoga gurus that vegetarian food gives long life.



AbrahamYeshuratnam
AbrahamYeshuratnam

@yogi555  You are wrong. Jeanne Calment  of France who died at the age of 122 was a non-vegetarian. Jeanne credited her extraordinary longevity to olive oil, which she used generously on her food and skin, as well as a diet of port wine and about 1kg of chocolate a week. She also smoked until her doctor advised her to stop smoking.

yogi555
yogi555

 @yogi555 No dear, I'm not wrong because i was talking of Marie-Louise Meilleur of Australia not Jeanne Clament of France.Just because there are non vegetarians who lived to an old age doesn't mean vegetarians die younger.There is no logic in your reply.

AishaSheikh
AishaSheikh

@yogi555 She actually only lived to be 117. Jeanne Calment lived to be 122. The oldest vegetarian did not live to be 122.
No one said vegetarians die younger.