Leila Backman Shull

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Leila Backman Shull
Born (1894-10-16)October 16, 1894
Lexington County, South Carolina, United States
Died December 22, 2007(2007-12-22)
(aged 113 years, 67 days)
Lexington County, South Carolina, United States
Occupation Homemaker
Title Supercentenarian
Spouse(s) Maxey Lee Shull (B:1888-D:1959) (M:1914-1959, his death, 4 children.)

(3 daughters and 1 son.) Annie Louvelia Sturkie (1915-1992; died at 77) Addie S. Barr (1918-2006; died at 88) Harold Shull (1921-2006; died at 85) and

Lettie Mae Smith (1926-).

Bertha Leila Shull (née Backman) (October 16, 1894 – December 22, 2007)[1][2] was an American supercentenarian, who, at her death aged 113, was the fourth-oldest person in the United States and the seventh-oldest in the world for little over a month since the November 14, 2007 death of fellow 113-year-old compatriot Bertha Fry. Shull was born and lived in Lexington County, South Carolina, and on July 16, 2007, she became the new South Carolina state recordholder, breaking the previous record of 112 years and 272 days set by Yettie Wilson in 2005.


She was the daughter of William Backman and Julie Shumpert Backman. Her mother lived to be 97. Shull worked as a homemaker, raising one son and three daughters. She died of natural causes. She left 15 grandchildren, 34 great-grandchildren and 40 great-great-grandchildren.[3] She had a love for gardening and flowers. She was also known for her cooking, especially her biscuits and chicken. She was preceded in death by two daughters and a son; Annie Louvelia Sturkie, who died when Leila was 97, and Addie S. Barr and Harold G. Shull, who both died when she was 111, as well as 3 grandsons; Randy Barr, Donley Barr, and Bobby Sturkie.

How she felt of her age[edit]

Even as her hearing and vision failed, friends said Shull didn't mind visitors and liked to clutch their hands while she talked. "The most beautiful thing was that even though she didn't hear well and see well, she was able to talk to you and relate certain things," said Crystal Danker, a friend of Shull's Granddaughter, Ann Seigler. Danker remembered Shull's response when she was once told she was 113."'Whew, that's a long time"' Danker recalled Shull saying. "'I think Jesus must've forgotten about me."'

Shull was the fourth oldest person in the United States and the seventh oldest in the world, said Dr. L. Stephen Coles, Co-founder of the California-based Gerontology Research Group. Coles said, "There was some question whether Shull was actually born in 1895, but his group recognizes her 1894 birth date." Shull's birth date and the day she was married were recorded in a family Bible, which alerted relatives to her age. "I didn't know Mom was that old," Smith told The State. "And I wouldn't believe it until I saw it in the Bible."

Tributes and hobbies[edit]

She was a keen gardener and cook. According to her daughter Leila would get up every morning, eat breakfast and go out and work in her garden. Smith added, "She was very independent up until the very end." Smith cared for Shull after her husband died in 1959. She loved to garden, bake biscuits and cook chicken. Leila had a a pacemaker fiited at 104.

"She was a good mother we knew we were loved. She was good at everything. She helped me in high school and she had a fourth grade education," explained Smith.

Shull was a member of St. David Lutheran Church for 75 years. Her funeral was scheduled for Boxing Day.

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