Emma Tillman

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Emma Tillman
Emma Tillman, aged 114.jpg
Emma Tillman aged 114 with great-grand daughter Carol Stewart
Born(1892-11-22)November 22, 1892
Died(2007-01-28)January 28, 2007
(aged 114 years, 67 days)
OccupationBaker, caterer
TitleWorld's oldest person (January 24, 2007 until January 28, 2007)
Spouse(s)Arthur Tillman (married: 1914-1939 his death)

Emmaline "Emma" Fanchon Tillman, (née Faust; November 22, 1892 – January 28, 2007) was an American supercentenarian and, at age 114 years 67 days, the oldest validated living person from the death of 115-year-old Puerto Rican man Emiliano Mercado del Toro on January 24, 2007 until her own death four days later.[1]


Tillman was one of 24 children born to former slaves in Gibsonville, North Carolina. Her maiden name, Faust, had been adopted from the plantation owner who owned her father's family before the Civil War, Cane Faust.[2][3] The family moved to Glastonbury, Connecticut in 1900, where Tillman became the only African-American attending Glastonbury High School, graduating in 1909 as the first African-American to do so there.[2][4][5] Tillman ran her own baking and catering service, sometimes serving meals for visiting state dignitaries, and whose regular customers included Dr. Thomas Hepburn, a noted Hartford Hospital urologist and father to actress Katharine Hepburn,[5] who she served as the family cook for a number of years.[2] Her husband died in 1939.[5] Four of her siblings lived past age 100, including a brother who lived to be 108, a sister who reached 105 and two others who reached 102.[6]

Throughout her lifetime, Tillman was involved in various NAACP social programs and the National Council of Negro Women.[4]

The day before her 110th birthday, former Connecticut Governor John G. Rowland proclaimed that her birthday, November 22, would be known within the state as "Emma Tillman Day".[2]

Tillman was a parishioner at the Metropolitan A.M.E. Zion Church for more than 80 years,[4] where she became informally known as the "mother" of the church and the A.M.E. Conference as a whole.[3][5]

She lived independently until the age of 110.[7] On January 18, 2007, she became the oldest living woman following the death of 115-year-old Canadian Julie Winnefred Bertrand,[8] and on January 24, 2007 she became the world's oldest living person with the death of 115-year-old Emiliano Mercado del Toro (a native of Puerto Rico).[9]

She died in an East Hartford nursing home on January 28, 2007, aged 114 years, 67 days. She holds the record for the shortest period spent as the world's oldest person.[10][11] After her death, Yone Minagawa of Japan became the world's oldest person.[12]

On March 9, 2007, Tillman was discussed as a major subject of a lecture by Felicia Nimue Ackerman, a professor of philosophy at Brown University, titled "Nature vs. the Tragedy of Emma Faust Tillman’s Death", at the Karbank Symposium in Environmental Philosophy at Boston University.[13] The lecture discussed issues related to environmental philosophy, particularly the value of individual human lives compared to the value of natural environments and their preservation.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Table C - World's Oldest Person (WOP) Titleholders Since 1955, Gerontology Research Group, 29 June 2015. Retrieved 21 October 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d Ax, Joe (21 November 2003). "At 110, she's living history". Journal Inquirer. Retrieved 15 November 2015.
  3. ^ a b Johnson, Linda D. (2006). "She's in Guinness!". The Salvation Army. Archived from the original on 10 February 2007. Retrieved 15 November 2015.
  4. ^ a b c James, Ariel (14 December 2006). "Emma Faust Tillman's Long Life". Hartford Courant. Retrieved 15 November 2015.
  5. ^ a b c d Medina Jennifer, In Connecticut, World’s Oldest Woman Dies at 114, The New York Times, 30 January 2007. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  6. ^ After a brief reign, oldest known person dies, Associated Press, reprinted at NBC NEWS.com website, 29 January 2007. Retrieved 19 October, 2015.
  7. ^ World's oldest person dies at 114, BBC News website, 29 January 2007. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  8. ^ Julie Bertrand, 115; Canadian was world's oldest woman for a month, Los Angeles Times, 20 January 2007. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  9. ^ Age epithet passes as oldest person dies at 115, The Age, 28 January 2007. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  10. ^ World's oldest living person dies at age 115, Guinness World Records, 17 December 2012. Retrieved 21 October 2015.
  11. ^ Goldenberg, David (26 May 2015). "Why The Oldest Person In The World Keeps Dying". FiveThirtyEight. Retrieved 15 November 2015.
  12. ^ Medina, Jennifer, Obituary: Emma Tillman, world's oldest person, at age 114 - Americas - International Herald Tribune, The New York Times, 30 January 2007. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  13. ^ "Spring 2007 Karbank Symposium in Environmental Philosophy". Boston University Arts & Sciences, Department of Philosophy. February 2007. Retrieved 15 November 2015.
  14. ^ Jahnke, Art (7 March 2007). "How Much Do We Owe the Earth?". BU Today. Boston University. Retrieved 15 November 2015.

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