New York’s most senior resident — who is also the United States’ second oldest resident and the world’s third oldest person — celebrated turning 114 Friday at a Brooklyn senior center surrounded by friends and family, including a 69-year-old grandson.
An African-American daughter of sharecroppers from the South, Susannah Mushatt Jones was determined to be the world’s third oldest person by the Gerontology Research Group, an organization of physicians, scientists and engineers who validate supercentenarians, people 110 or older. She says she only takes one blood pressure medication and a daily vitamin.
Wearing a navy blue dress covered with small white flowers, a hat to match and sunglasses, Miss Susie, as she is known, held her head high as her nieces and caretaker wheeled her to her party. Reporters covering the event were prewarned that she would not be able to last outside more than 30 minutes.
Indeed, half an hour into the program, right after the requisite song and before anyone cut the cake, her head was drooping, and her nieces had to wheel her upstairs for some rest.
“She’s living history and a blessing, a true blessing,” said adopted grandson Richard Clay, 69. “I have a little ways to go to catch up with her.”
Among the attendees were Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn) and Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes.
Born July 6, 1899, in Lowndes County, Alabama, the third of 11 children, Jones moved to New York in 1923 to work as a nanny, and used her own wages to bring the rest of her family north.
She does not have children and divorced her husband soon after they married, but her nieces said she always took care of her siblings’ families.
Miss Susie retired in 1965 but remain independent well into her 90s. She has lived on the fifth floor of the Vandalia Houses for the past 29 years, and she stood on patrol in the building’s front lobby until she was 106.
Even as she lost her eyesight about 13 years ago, she did not lose her sense of humor, pretending she could see in front of her family.
“She was so independent, she didn’t want us to know,” Lavilla Watson, Miss Susie’s 81-year-old niece, said.
“She’s still bossy and sassy,” she added.