Edna Parker

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Edna Parker
Parker in 2007 at age 114
Edna Ruth Scott

(1893-04-20)April 20, 1893
Died(2008-11-26)November 26, 2008
(aged 115 years, 220 days)
Resting placeShelbyville's Miller Cemetery
EducationFranklin College
Known forThe oldest living person from August 13, 2007, to November 26, 2008
Earl Parker
(m. 1913; died 1939)

Edna Ruth Parker (née Scott)[1] (April 20, 1893 – November 26, 2008) was an American supercentenarian who, for 15 months, was recognized as the oldest person in the world. She was featured in two documentaries and included in a Boston University DNA database of supercentenarians.


Edna Ruth Parker was born on April 20, 1893, on a farm in Morgan County, Indiana, and raised eating a typical farm diet of meat and starch. She attended Franklin Senior High School, then took classes at Franklin College to obtain a teaching certificate. Parker taught at a two-room schoolhouse in Smithland for a few years, until she married her next door neighbor, Earl Parker, on April 12, 1913.[2][3] Earl died on February 23, 1939. They had two sons, Clifford and Earl Jr.,[4] both of whom she outlived.[5] Her two sisters predeceased her, one dying aged 99 and the other at 88.[6] At the time of her death, Parker had five grandchildren, thirteen great-grandchildren and thirteen great-great-grandchildren.[7]

Parker lived alone on a farm from the age of 45, when her husband died, until 1993, aged 100 when, still in very strong health, she lived briefly with her son Clifford, before moving to a nursing home at Heritage House Convalescent Center, a retirement community in Shelbyville, Indiana.[8] Until her death, Parker read the newspaper every day and enjoyed reading and reciting poetry, especially the works of James Whitcomb Riley, and according to family liked to quote his poetry to visitors.[9]

Final years[edit]

While Parker's 100th birthday was celebrated by her family and recognised in the local newspaper,[10] by the time she reached 109, the occasion was noted state-wide.[8] On her 111th birthday in 2004, she received accolades from both the state governor and the president.[11] The Boston University New England Centenarian Study took a sample of Parker's DNA in 2006, as part of a study of the genetics of extreme longevity.[5] In January 2007, Parker became the oldest person in the United States,[12] and seven months later, following the death of Yone Minagawa of Japan on August 13, 2007, she became the oldest person in the world. The occasion is recorded as a "Moment of Indiana History".[13] Parker featured in an episode of Mark Dolan's documentary The World's ... and Me in 2008,[citation needed] and in another documentary called How to Live Forever, released in 2009.[14] On her 114th birthday, she received a letter from Vice-President Dick Cheney, who thanked her for "sharing her wisdom and experiences" with younger generations,[15] received the key to the city of Shelbyville from the Mayor, and was visited by the state Governor and Senator.[16] On April 21, 2007, she met with Bertha Fry of Muncie, who was 113 at the time,[17] which set the highest combined age (227 years 142 days) for a meeting of two supercentenarians; both were awarded certificates in person by a representative of Guinness World Records.[18] Parker lived in the same nursing home as Sandy Allen, the tallest living woman verified by Guinness World Records, until Allen's death on August 13, 2008.[19] Parker reportedly did not offer an explanation for her long life, and simply advised questioners that the most important thing was "more education".[17]

The Heritage House Convalescent Center planned two parties to celebrate her 115th birthday, a public celebration one and a private family one. One hundred fifteen multicolored balloons were released at each, because Parker enjoyed watching them float into the sky.[20] Parker was included in a book for children, Girls are Best (2009), as the oldest woman in the world.[21] She died at her nursing home seven months after her birthday, on November 26, 2008, aged 115 years 220 days. Her death was reported around the world.[22][23] Parker is buried in Shelbyville's Miller Cemetery.[24] After her death, a Portuguese woman Maria de Jesus became the world's oldest person.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Governor meets with country's two oldest, both Hoosiers Archived December 3, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Source Citation: Title: Shelby County, Indiana, Index To Marriage Record 1856–1920 Inclusive Vol, W. P. A. Original Record Located: County Clerk's O; Book: 21;Page: 24
  3. ^ "Parker-Scott". The Evening Star. Franklin, Indiana: 3. April 14, 1913. Retrieved October 31, 2018.
  4. ^ 1920 US Census; Place: Needham, Johnson, Indiana; Roll: T625_442; Page: 4B; Enumeration District: 138; Image: 133.
  5. ^ a b Callahan, Rick (April 19, 2008). "World's oldest known person, 115, could hold answers". The Tennessean: A3. Retrieved October 31, 2018.
  6. ^ "Indiana Woman Now World's Oldest Person". August 14, 2007. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved August 14, 2007.
  7. ^ a b "World's Oldest Person Dies at 115". Archived from the original on December 1, 2008. Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  8. ^ a b Zogg, Jeff (April 20, 2002). "109-year-old says she doesn't feel old yet". The Indianapolis Star: 15. Retrieved October 31, 2018.
  9. ^ Eddings, Cordell (February 3, 2007). "Just a very thankful farm girl". The Indianapolis Star: A1, A9. Retrieved November 2, 2018.
  10. ^ Jones, Annette (April 17, 1993). "Area resident celebrates 100th birthday with party". The Daily Journal. Franklin, Indiana: 16. Retrieved October 31, 2018.
  11. ^ Talbert, Steve (May 1, 2004). "111-year-old won't give away secret". The Indianapolis Star: 116. Retrieved October 31, 2018.
  12. ^ "Indiana woman is nation's oldest". The Courier-Journal. Louisville, Kentucky: B5. February 3, 2007. Retrieved October 31, 2018.
  13. ^ Ksander, Yael (November 5, 2007). "Edna Parker". Moment of Indiana History. Indiana Public Media. Retrieved November 2, 2018.
  14. ^ Burr, Ty (August 19, 2011). "How to Live Forever: Far more than the same old, same old". The Boston Globe. Retrieved October 31, 2018.
  15. ^ "Oldest American celebrates 114th birthday". The Call-Leader. Elwood, Indiana: 5. April 21, 2007. Retrieved November 2, 2018.
  16. ^ Koch, Gail (April 22, 2007). "Country's oldest women, both Hoosiers, meet". The Star Press. Muncie, Indiana: 1. Retrieved November 2, 2018.
  17. ^ a b Gillers, Heather (November 28, 2008). "At 115, she was the oldest person in the world". The Indianapolis Star: A15. Retrieved November 2, 2018.
  18. ^ Higgins, Will (April 22, 2007). "Record for the ages". The Indianapolis Star: B1, B5. Retrieved November 2, 2018.
  19. ^ Governor pays weekend visit to honor Edna's 114th birthday[dead link]
  20. ^ Callahan, Rick (April 19, 2008). "Long, full life: World's oldest person nears 115". The Courier-Journal. Louisville, Kentucky: B1, B3. Retrieved November 2, 2018.
  21. ^ Toksvig, Sandi (2009). Girls Are Best. Random House. p. 12. ISBN 978-1-86230-429-1.
  22. ^ Strange, Hannah (November 28, 2008). "World's oldest person, Edna Parker, dies at 115". The Times. London. Retrieved November 2, 2018.
  23. ^ "World's oldest person dies". The Sydney Morning Herald. Sydney, Australia. November 28, 2008. Retrieved November 2, 2018.
  24. ^ "Edna Parker". The Shelbyville News. November 28, 2008. Retrieved April 7, 2009.[dead link]

External links[edit]