SHELBYVILLE, Ind. – Edna Parker, who became the world’s oldest person more than a year ago, has died at age 115.
UCLA gerontologist Dr. Stephen Coles said Parker’s great-nephew notified him that Parker died Wednesday at a nursing home in Shelbyville. She was 115 years, 220 days old, said Robert Young, a senior consultant for gerontology for Guinness World Records.
Parker was born April 20, 1893, in central Indiana’s Morgan County and had been recognized by Guinness World Records as the world’s oldest person since the 2007 death in Japan of Yone Minagawa, who was four months her senior.
Coles maintains a list of the world’s oldest people and said Parker was the 14th oldest validated supercentenarian in history. Maria de Jesus of Portugal, who was born Sept. 10, 1893, is now the world’s oldest living person, according to the Gerontology Research Group.
Parker had been a widow since her husband, Earl Parker, died in 1939 of a heart attack. She lived alone in their farmhouse until age 100, when she moved into a son’s home and later to the Shelbyville nursing home.
Although she never drank alcohol or tried tobacco and led an active life, Parker didn’t offer tips for living a long life. Her only advice to those who gathered to celebrate when she became the oldest person was “more education.”
Parker outlived her two sons, Clifford and Earl Jr. She also had five grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren and 13 great-great-grandchildren.
Don Parker, 60, said his grandmother had a small frame and a mild temperament. She walked a lot and kept busy even after moving into the nursing home, he said.
“She kept active,” he said Thursday. “We used to go up there, and she would be pushing other patients in their wheelchairs.”
Gov. Mitch Daniels celebrated with Parker on her 114th birthday.
“It was a delight to know Edna, who must have been a remarkable lady at any age,” Daniels said.
Parker taught in a two-room school in Shelby County for several years after graduating from Franklin College in 1911. She wed her childhood sweetheart and neighbor in 1913.
But as was the tradition of that era, her teaching career ended with her marriage. Parker traded the schoolhouse for life as a farmer’s wife, preparing meals for as many as a dozen men who worked on her husband’s farm.
Parker noted with pride last year that she and her husband were one of the first owners of an automobile in their rural area.
Coincidentally, Parker lived in the same nursing home as 7-foot-7 Sandy Allen, whom Guinness recognized as the world’s tallest woman until her death in August. – AP