INKSTER (WWJ/AP) – The oldest woman in the U.S. is pushing off questions about her longevity to a higher power.
When Jeralean Talley was asked why she thinks she has lived so long, the 113-year-old from suburban Detroit lifted her arm and pointed to the sky.
“Don’t ask me. Ask him,” adding, in an interview with WWJ Newsradio 950’s Marie Osborne, on Wednesday: “That’s in the Lord’s hands.”
Talley, who was born May 23, 1899, in Montrose, Ga., is the third-oldest person in the world, according to the Gerontology Research Group, which verifies age information for Guinness World Records.
She earned the title of oldest American when Elsie Thompson of Clearwater, Fla., died March 21, just weeks before her 114th birthday.
When Osborne arrived to talk with Talley at the Inkster home when she’s lived for decades, Talley said she’s tired of all the media interviews and wanted to take a nap.
She still has a sharp wit — but needed a reminder as to what all the fuss is about.
“You’re the oldest lady in the United States, Mama!” said 75-year-old Thelma Holloway, Talley’s caregiver and only child.
Several of Talley’s 11 siblings lived well into their 90s, according to Holloway. Currently, five generations of the family are alive.
Talley, who gave up bowling at age 104, uses a walker to get around and still plans to attend her annual fishing outing with Michael Kinloch, a friend from Wayne County’s Canton Township whom she met at church.
“Her memory is phenomenal,” he said.
Talley moved to Michigan in 1935, and her husband, Alfred, died in 1988.
Her friend, Mary Kennedy, said Talley remains alert and has a sense of humor.
“She is original,” Kennedy said. “There is nobody else like her.”
The Gerontology Research Group said the world’s two oldest people are 115 and live in Japan.
Here are the five oldest, validated living supercentenarians:
1. Jiroemon Kimura, 115, of Japan, born April 19, 1897
2. Misao Okawa, 115, of Japan, born March 5, 1898
3. Jeralean Talley, 113, of Inkster, born May 23, 1899
4. Susannah Mushatt Jones, 113, of New York, born July 6, 1899
5. Bernice Madigan, 113, of Massachusetts, born July 24, 1899
Source: Gerontology Research Group
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