John Louis "Jack" Bolden, age 74, visits his grandmother, Elizabeth Bolden, age 114
August 15, 1890
Somerville, Tennessee, U.S.
|Died||December 11, 2006
(aged 116 years, 118 days)
Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.
|Other names||Elizabeth Bolden, Lizzie|
|Title||World's oldest living person (August 27, 2006 to December 11, 2006)|
|Spouse(s)||Louis Bolden (1908-1955)|
|Children||Ezell (1909-1987), Emil, Esther Rhodes (1917-2007), Mamie L. Brittmon (1920-2009), John, Ethel, Ann (1925-2001)|
Elizabeth "Lizzie" Bolden (née Jones; August 15, 1890 – December 11, 2006) was an American supercentenarian woman who, at the time of her death at age 116 years and 118 days, was recognized by Guinness World Records as the then world's oldest living person. She was the last remaining documented person born in 1890. Bolden was the seventh recorded person to reach age 116 without dispute.
Bolden married Louis Bolden in 1908, and their first child, a son, Ezell, was born on September 21, 1909. Elizabeth and Lewis Bolden had three sons and four daughters and raised cotton and subsistence crops on farmland near Memphis until the 1950s. Only two daughters were still alive as of her death in 2006, they were Esther Rhodes, 89, and Mamie Brittmon, 86. At the time of her 116th birthday in August 2006, Bolden had 40 grandchildren, 75 great-grandchildren, 150 great-great-grandchildren, 220 great-great-great grandchildren and 75 great-great-great-great-grandchildren.
When she turned 113 in 2003, the newspaper asked her why she had lived so long, but all she could say was "I don't know." The reporter speculated that Bolden just wasn't in the mood to talk that day. When one of her daughters kept trying to cover her with a blanket, she delivered an earful. "If you weren't my child, I'd put you over my knee and whoop the [expletive] out of you," she said.
In her final years she resided in a Memphis, Tennessee nursing home that she had lived in since she was 109, and was described by her family as unable to communicate.
They requested that media attention (such as interviews and visits) be limited. During her reign as world's oldest person titleholder, Bolden was rarely seen in public. She was also extremely afraid of the dark, and sometimes couldn't sleep because of it.
She was photographed for two different books in early 2005, and was featured in Jet magazine in May 2005 and the Memphis Commercial Appeal in June 2005. For her 116th birthday, new photographs were released for the first time in almost a year, and her family said that she was looking forward to her big day.
Elizabeth Bolden was verified in April 2005 as being the oldest documented resident of the United States since the death of Emma Verona Johnston the previous December. She displaced Bettie Wilson, who had previously been the oldest known American. At the time of her death, Bolden was the last resident of the United States to live through more than half of the country's history.
Bolden regained the oldest living person title following the August 27, 2006 death of María Capovilla. This was officially confirmed on September 17, 2006 by Guinness World Records. She had previously held the title from the August 30, 2005 death of Hendrikje van Andel. On December 9, 2005, Capovilla was announced as authenticated older. Bolden became only the second person to hold the title twice, the first one being world record holder Jeanne Calment.
Bolden is the oldest North American to have lived in three different centuries, and the second-oldest person worldwide to have done so, after the previously mentioned María Capovilla.
In July 2006, Bolden entered the list of the all time top ten oldest verified people. At the time of her death aged 116 years 118 days she was and still is the seventh-oldest undisputed person ever documented.
In the 1900 U.S. Census, she is recorded as being nine years old and born in August 1890, and in the 1910 U.S. Census she is recorded as 19 years old, married with a child. With the destruction of the Fayette County, Tennessee records in a 1925 fire, the family had guessed that she was born in 1891, but investigation proved she was a year older.
When Bolden died, the Los Angeles based Gerontology Research Group and Guinness World Records named the successor of the title of the world's oldest living person as Emiliano Mercado del Toro of Puerto Rico. He was the first man to hold the title in over 20 years.
- Lizzie Bolden featured on David Letterman
- CBS News – Memphis Woman Turns 116
- The Associated Press – Memphis woman listed as world's oldest dies at 116
- CNN – Oldest woman dies at age 116
- Sun-Sentinel – Memphis woman listed as world's oldest dies at age 116
- Blackamericaweb – Elizabeth Bolden, America’s oldest woman and daughter of freed slaves, dies at 116
|Oldest recognized living person
August 27, 2006 – December 11, 2006
Emiliano Mercado del Toro
|Oldest recognized living woman
August 27, 2006 – December 11, 2006
Julie Winnefred Bertrand