Call it an by-product of my ongoing mid-life crisis, but I've been fascinated, in recent years, by the passing of the last remnants of the 19th Century. I've been following closely, and clipping numerous newspaper articles, the passings of the final WW1 veterans (which I've mentioned in a previous blog entry). I've also been exploring the amazing number of people who exceed the "century mark." A famous friend, radio writer Norman Corwin, turns 101 next month. His brother died last month at 107 (he was the oldest federal employee when he retired not too long ago!) Their dad, by the way, lived to be 109. Talk about having the right genetics! In early February, there was a newspaper story about Besse Cooper of Monroe, Georgia. She's the current world record holder at 114. There's an entire web-site dedicated to "supercentenarians." A supercentenarian is someone who is 110 or older. There are about 90 confirmed and verified supercentenarians in the world and an estimated total of about 450 living today. That's out of a world population of 6.8-billion, by the way.
Anyway, I was going though my clippings and was reminded that one of those 450-amazing people lives only about two miles away from where I live near Milan. Mrs. Emily Weil was born November 20, 1899 and will be 112 next fall. Her life has graced three centuries, 21-presidents and 10-popes. She is, with little doubt, the last person I'll know connected to the 19th Century. And that 1898 penny I collected as a kid that I thought was so amazing, was still shiny new when she was born.
I visited her recently to record an interview which aired on my radio program April 14 and fell in love with her spirit, her charm and her grace. Although confined to a wheel chair and despite having poor hearing (her daughter-in-law, Marilyn, says she hates hearing aids!), her memory is pretty keen recalling all the world and personal events she has lived though. Growing up in Crescent Springs, KY, Emily married a dashing young trucking executive in 1932 and they quickly had eight children. But in 1943, her husband unexpectedly died of pneumonia and Emily was forced to go to school to learn nursing to bring in money and raise her children, the oldest of whom was only ten. She did what she needed to do to get a decent job as a nurse at Drake Hospital and the family was able to grow up comfortably on a small farm near Mt. Healthy. Although one child died, the other seven enjoyed rich lives, including a veterinarian and a missionary, with 25 grandchildren and 39 great-grandchildren to follow. After retirement she learned basket-weaving and tatting and at age 100, she took up painting! Her family self-published a book of her art.
A woman of great faith, she enjoys weekly visits by local priest, Fr. Frank Eckstein and the love and constant care of her son, Bob, and Marilyn and a home health nurse.
To go into all of the things she's witnessed in her life would far exceed the limits of this blog, so I'll conclude by saying that I'm proud to meet, know and become friends with the oldest known person in Ohio, Indiana or Kentucky. God bless, Mrs. Weil and I pray many more happy years lie ahead!