Funeral held for Jeralean Talley, world's oldest woman

The Detroit News

Jeralean Talley, the world's oldest person at 116, who died June 17, was put to rest Saturday.

Friends and family attended the service held at New Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church, 821 Inkster Road, in Inkster.

Talley died at home in Inkster — "just where she wanted to be," said her daughter Thelma Holloway on Thursday— having been feted and fussed over at several recent events, including a luncheon in April where she gave credit to God for her record-breaking longevity.

"Every day is a gift from above. There is nothing we can do without God," she said. "He made us, and he knew when He wanted to take us."

The California-based Gerontology Research Group, which keeps track of the world's oldest people, declared Talley in early April to be the oldest human on the planet. The previous record-holder, Arkansas resident Gertrude Weaver, died April 6 at 116 years old, according to the group.

Talley is succeeded as the world's oldest person by New Yorker Susannah Mushatt Jones, who turns 116 on July 6.

Born May 23, 1899, in Montrose, Georgia, Talley moved to Detroit in 1935, married, and had Thelma, in 1937. Her husband, Alfred, died in 1988, after 52 years of marriage.

She lived by herself until eight years ago, living her final years with Thelma. Talley hung up her bowling shoes at age 104, when she rolled a 200 in her last game. She also enjoyed annual fishing trips, and sewed her own clothes.

Several of Mrs. Talley's 12 siblings lived into their 80s and 90s, and she cared for one of them. She was known as Mother Talley at the New Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church, in where she had been a member since its foundation 10 years ago.

"She was just our heart," church officer and lifelong friend Christonna Campbell said. "She was the jewel of our community and our church.

"It's just been a blessing for me to be a part of her life and her family's life. Everybody at the church cares about her and loves her. She's really going to be missed."

Campbell said Talley was "just so humble. Whatever you needed of her, she was ready to do it."