Aug 21, 2023

“If the Lord gave it to you, use it”: 114-year-old supercentenarian’s key to a long life

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Elizabeth Francis at her 114th birthday with daughter, Dorothy (right), and granddaughter Ethel (left). [Source: Emmanuel Rodriguez/ Washington Post]

Key points:

  • Elizabeth was a single mother and supported herself and her daughter Dorothy by running a coffee shop at ABC 13 News in Houston for about 20 years until her retirement in 1975
  • Elizabeth and Dorothy have lived together in their Huston home since 1999
  • A supercentenarian is someone who lives to be 110 years old or older

The oldest person in the American State of Texas turned 114 last month and has plans to see her 115th birthday too.  

Making headlines every year, Elizabeth Francis celebrated 114 laps around the sun with 94-year-old daughter Dorothy, 68-year-old granddaughter Ethel, extended family, friends and other members of the community. 

At a party thrown by Ethel in her mother and grandmother’s Houston home, cakes, pasta flowers and a prized plaque commemorating Elizabeth’s milestone were gifted to the older woman.

“I guess I would have to say the Lord has blessed me in my young age,” Elizabeth told the Washington Post

Ethel is one of several care providers who help to look after her mother and grandmother – noting Elizabeth is grandmother to three, great-grandmother to five and great-great-grandmother to four. Ehtel believes her grandmother is the second oldest living supercentenarian in the United States of America, and the seventh oldest living person in the world. 

The centenarian genes must have been in the family as one of Elizabeth’s sisters also passed the 100-year mark before she died at 106. The pair were described as close, living next door to each other for several years. 

Born in Louisiana in 1909, Elizabeth said it was so long ago, she doesn’t remember the name of the town where she entered the world. Her mother died when she was a child and Elizabeth and her five siblings were sent to different homes. Elizabeth was moved to Houston to be raised by an aunt.

According to Ethel, Elizabeth never drove so she got around by foot or on public transport and refused to use convenient appliances such as a clothes dryer – opting to hang her washing out manually on the line outside until her mobility started to decline. 

“Her life was always pretty simple: early to bed, early to rise, work hard, then come home and make a nutritious meal and be with family,” said Ethel.

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A photo taken of Elizabeth circa 1935 from her scrapbook. She was about 26. [Source: Washington Post]

Elizabeth joked that eating whatever she wants is the secret to a long life but Ben Meyers, Chief Executive of LongeviQuest – an organisation that tracks the oldest people in the world – said supercentenarians often live long due to having a healthy relationship with stress. 

Mr Meyers has a particular fondness for Elizabeth, her story and her quick wit which saw him make the trip from Florida to Texas to celebrate her birthday with her in person.

“That’s something we could all take to heart,” Meyers said.

As for her next birthday, Elizabeth said it’s never too early to start planning her 115th birthday party. She is already anticipating enjoying two pieces of cake at the event next July. 

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