Woman Among Nation's Oldest
Ashlee Griggs and Jennifer Miller
Columbia County Bureau

July 29, 2000; Thomson, GA ( Augusta Chronicle) - In 1881, President James Garfield was assassinated, Billy the Kid was gunned down in New Mexico territory, Sitting Bull surrendered, and Alberta Davis was born. At 118 years old, [ Editor's Note: Now 119.] the Thomson Manor resident is one of the oldest people in Georgia and perhaps the whole world. "According to Social Security records, she is 118 years old,'' said Thomson Manor Activities Director Joyce Lokey. "And she's in pretty good health." Mrs. Davis was born December 24, 1881, in Hancock County, GA

"I was born on Christmas (Eve) night a long time ago," she said with a smile. One of eight children, Ms. Davis was taken in by a woman who cared for her as her own. She learned how to care for herself and others early on. "I cooked and did housework all the time," she said. Through the years, she married and had two children. She farmed and was a homemaker. She has outlived all of her siblings, her husband and her son. Her daughter, Irene, visits often, along with numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Because Social Security records are confidential, Mrs. Davis' age could not be verified.

"It's very difficult to verify the ages of people who are over 100 or who are extremely old," said Ms. Lynn Peters Adler, Founder and Director of the National Centenarian Awareness Project of Phoenix, AZ. But if Mrs. Davis is 118, "That would definitely rank among the oldest recorded women in the country," she said.

According to The Gerontology Research Groups located in Los Angeles, New York and Washington, Elizabeth "Ma Pampo" Israel, of the Caribbean island nation of Dominica, was presumed born Jan. 27, 1875, making her 125 years old. She has no birth certificate, but the local Roman Catholic archdiocese issued an official baptismal certificate based on church records. This makes her older than the previous record-holder, Frenchwoman Madam Jeanne Calment, who died at 122 on August 4, 1997.

The Guinness Book of Records lists 114-year-old Eva Morris of Staffordshire in the United Kingdom as the world's oldest woman. Guinness requires strict documentation before including someone on its lists.

But Mrs. Davis isn't worrying about breaking world records. In her conversations with visitors, her mind sometimes wanders to earlier years. She speaks of her "Ma" and how she was raised. "Ma taught me manners and to know how to do and what to do," she said. Ms. Davis now spends her days parked in her wheelchair by a nurses' station, greeting other residents and visitors. Her bright-blue eyes and warm smile are the first thing people see when they walk through the door at the nursing home. "She is a sweet lady," Ms. Lokey said. "And she loves to talk and sing." Ms. Davis also enjoys listening to music, particularly gospel and blues, and dancing in her chair. "She keeps us laughing around here," Ms. Lokey said.

What's Her Secret to Longevity?

"It's what you know up here that will carry you a long way," Ms. Davis said, pointing to her head. "That, and minding your own business." "You tend to your business, and I'll tend to mine," she said. But perhaps most important, Ms. Davis said, you must follow the Lord. "What God says for you to do, do that," she said. "It's all in the heart."