Shelby County Indiana
Edna Scott Parker
Edna Ruth Parker (née Scott; April 20, 1893 – November 26, 2008) was an American supercentenarian and, until her death, was recognized as the oldest person in the world following the death of Yone Minagawa of Japan on August 13, 2007. She assumed the title at age 114 years 115 days. Parker became Indiana's oldest living person on April 7, 2005 (age 111 years 352 days) (following the death of then almost-112-year-old Minnie Kearby, who was just 6 days older at the time) and the state's all-time recordholder on January 19, 2007 (age 113 years 274 days), surpassing Mary Parr. She became the oldest living American on February 14, 2007 (age 113 years 300 days), following the death of then fellow 113-year-old Corinne Dixon Taylor of Washington, D.C. Parker was the 20th verified, undisputed supercentenarian to reach age 115. At the time of her death, Parker was listed as the 11th longest lived person ever.
Parker was born in 1893, on a farm in Shelby County, Indiana, near Bengal in Hendricks township and raised eating a typical farm diet of meat and starch. She attended Franklin High School, then took classes at Franklin College to obtain a teaching certificate. Parker taught at a two-room schoolhouse in Smithland for several years, until she married her next door neighbor, Earl Parker, on April 12, 1913. Earl died on February 23, 1939. They had two sons, Clifford and Earl Jr., both of whom she outlived. As of April 2008, she had five grandchildren, thirteen great-grandchildren and thirteen great-great-grandchildren. Her two sisters also are deceased; Georgia lived to be 99, while her sister Opal was 88 when she died.
Parker lived alone on a farm on Blueridge Road after her husband had died when she was 45. She remained there until 1993, aged 100 when, still in very strong health, she moved in with her oldest son Clifford. One winter night, she was left alone while Clifford and his wife went to a basketball game. When they returned, she was in the back yard, unconscious, in the snow, and visible in the poor light only because she was wearing her favorite red sweater. Her family feared her death, but medics arrived and she made a full recovery except for only mild injuries. Afterwards it was decided that she needed to move to a nursing home.
Until her death, Parker lived at Heritage House Convalescent Center, a retirement community in Shelbyville, Indiana. On April 21, 2007, at the age of 114, she met with the 2nd-oldest Indiana inhabitant and then 5th-oldest living person in the world, Bertha Fry. Fry, who lived in Muncie, was 113 at the time, which set the highest combined age for a meeting of two supercentenarians, at 227 years 142 days. Parker lived in the same home as Sandy Allen, the tallest living woman verified by Guinness World Records, until Allen's death on August 13, 2008. Parker enjoyed reading and reciting poetry, especially the works of James Whitcomb Riley, and according to family liked to quote his poetry to visitors. She read the newspaper every day, enjoyed cards from well-wishers, and often sent autographs to people asking for them. In 2007, she received a letter from President George W. Bush on her 114th birthday, who thanked her for “sharing her wisdom and experiences” with younger generations. Also at that time, she was given the key to the city of Shelbyville from the Mayor, and was visited by the state Governor and Senator.
The Heritage House Convalescent Center planned two separate birthday parties to celebrate her 115th birthday. At each one they released one hundred fifteen multicolored balloons, because she enjoyed watching balloons float into the sky. The public celebration was on April 18, 2008, while the private family one was on April 20, 2008, her actual birthday. She was one of only 21 people validated to have reached 115 years of age. As of April 2012, this number has increased to 27 with the inclusion of Maria de Jesus, Gertrude Baines, Besse Cooper, Chiyono Hasegawa, Dina Manfredini and Jiroemon Kimura. She is also the oldest person born in 1893. Parker died at a nursing home in Indiana, around 5:19PM EST on Wednesday November 26, 2008, at age 115 years 220 days. Parker is buried in the Shelbyville's Miller Cemetery.
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