Jeralean Talley

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Jeralean Talley
Jeralean Talley born May 23, 1899.jpg
Jeralean Talley just prior to 116th birthday
Born Jeralean Kurtz
May 23, 1899
Montrose, Georgia, United States
Died June 17, 2015
(aged 116 years, 25 days)
Inkster, Michigan
Nationality American
Ethnicity African American
Known for Oldest living person (April 6, 2015 - June 17, 2015)
Religion Christian (Baptist)
Spouse(s) Alfred Talley[1] (1893–1988)
(m. 1936–88; his death)[2]
Children One daughter
Parent(s) Samuel and Amelia Kurtz

Jeralean Talley (née Kurtz; May 23, 1899 – June 17, 2015) was an American supercentenarian who was, at the age of 116 years, 25 days, the world's verified oldest living person. She was previously thought to be the oldest living American, from the death of Elsie Thompson on March 21, 2013 until Gertrude Weaver was verified to be older in July 2014.[3] Upon Weaver's death on April 6, 2015,[4] Talley was recognized as the oldest living person in the world. Talley received letters from U.S. President Barack Obama on her 114th and 116th birthdays acknowledging her status.


Talley was born on May 23, 1899 in Georgia. One of 12 children,[5] she spent her early years living on a farm picking cotton and peanuts and harvesting sweet potatoes. She moved to Inkster, Michigan in 1935, and lived there until she died. In 1936, she married Alfred Talley (January 30, 1893 – October 17, 1988). They had one child, a daughter, Thelma Holloway, born in 1937. Jeralean and Alfred were married for 52 years before he died in October 1988, at the age of 95.[6] Talley had three grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren, and 4 great-great-grandchildren.[7][8]

Talley only tried to drive a car once but pushed the wrong pedal, causing it to go in reverse rather than move forward. She never wanted to try again.[9]

Health and lifestyle[edit]

According to her daughter Thelma, Jeralean stayed active in her later life by sewing dresses, making quilts and playing slot machines at casinos. She bowled until she was 104, when her legs got too weak, but still went on annual fishing trips with her friend Michael Kinloch and his son Tyler (who is also her godson). In May 2013, at age 114, she caught 7 catfish.[7][8]

Talley was a member of the New Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church, whose members referred to her as “Mother Talley”. In May 2013, they celebrated her 114th birthday by officially naming the church's driveway after her. Talley also received a personalised letter from U.S. President Barack Obama, who wrote that she was “part of an extraordinary generation”.[10] On her 116th birthday, Talley received another letter from Obama who wrote that the “breadth of her experience and depth of her wisdom reflects the long path our nation has traveled since 1899”.[11]

She lived by the Golden Rule: “Treat others the way you want to be treated”. She was known in the community for her wisdom and wit, she had sometimes been asked for advice. She had previously advised people to use common sense, saying “I don’t have much education but what little sense I got, I try to use it”.[12]


On June 17, 2015, Talley died after a week of hospitalization. She had prayed not to suffer before death, and reportedly died peacefully during her sleep at her home in Inkster. Regarding her great age, she had been quoted as saying "There's nothing I can do about it."[13] Following her death, Susannah Mushatt Jones became the oldest person in the world and one of the only two remaining people verified to have been born in the 1800s.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Anderson, Elisha (April 3, 2013). "Michigan woman now the oldest person in U.S.". USA Today. 
  2. ^ "Alfred Talley, "United States Census, 1940"". Family Search. 
  3. ^ "At 116, Arkansas woman named oldest American". MSN. 4 July 2014. Retrieved 28 August 2014. 
  4. ^ Chaffin, Sarah (April 6, 2015). "World's oldest person, Arkansan Gertrude Weaver, dies". KATV. Retrieved 6 April 2015. 
  5. ^ "Jeralean Talley, World's Oldest Person, Celebrates Her 116th Birthday". NBC News. May 23, 2015. Retrieved 24 May 2015. 
  6. ^ "Oldest American, Jeralean Talley, Turns 114 Years Old". May 23, 2013. Retrieved May 25, 2013. 
  7. ^ a b "Local centenarians honored at Charles H. Wright Museum’s Summer Theater Festival". The Michigan Citizen. July 25, 2013. Retrieved October 27, 2013. 
  8. ^ a b "Happy 114th Birthday to Jeralean Talley, The Oldest Living American!". May 28, 2013. Retrieved May 27, 2013. 
  9. ^ Anderson, Elisha (April 3, 2013). "Jeralean Talley of Inkster, Mich., was born May 23, 1899". USA Today. Retrieved May 28, 2013. 
  10. ^ "Michigan woman celebrates 114th birthday with friends, family". Lansing State May 26, 2013. Retrieved May 28, 2013. 
  11. ^ "Inkster's Jeralean Talley, world's oldest person, turns 116 Saturday". Detroit Free Press. May 22, 2015. Retrieved May 23, 2015. 
  12. ^ "The oldest person in America turned 114 yesterday (PICTURED)". May 25, 2013. Retrieved May 28, 2013. 
  13. ^ Anderson, Elisha (June 18, 2015). "Jeralean Talley, world's oldest person, dies at 116". USA Today. Retrieved 18 June 2015. 
  14. ^ World’s oldest-known person Jeralean Talley dies at 116 Retrieved 19 June 2015.
Preceded by
Gertrude Weaver
Oldest living American
April 6, 2015 — June 17, 2015
Succeeded by
Susannah Mushatt Jones
Preceded by
Gertrude Weaver
Oldest verified living person
April 6, 2015 — June 17, 2015
Succeeded by
Susannah Mushatt Jones