Jeralean Talley's birthday on Saturday was a momentous one. At 116 years old, she is officially the oldest person living in the United States and, in fact, the oldest person at this time in the entire world with a verifiable age record.
Her birthday festivities began early as the entire Inkster, Michigan wanted to honor and celebrate her health and continuing long life.
On Thursday, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services threw a celebration for her and gave her $116—a dollar for each year of her life, which spans parts of three centuries.
Born in 1899, Talley was originally from Georgia. She experienced in her formative years the toil of life on a cotton and peanut farm. In 1935, she moved to Michigan, where she married and settled down with her husband of 52 years, Alfred, who passed away when he was 95 years old, and their daughter Thelma.
Talley has lived through many historic events and witnessed at least 20 different U.S. presidents take office during her lifetime. The current president even sent his “warmest wishes” to her via a letter to greet her a very happy birthday.
"The breadth of your experiences and depth of your wisdom reflect the long path our Nation has traveled since 1899," President Barack Obama wrote in a letter to Talley. "During this time, there have been setbacks and breakthroughs, false starts and improbable victories, and through it all our country's spirit has endured—strengthened and enriched by each generation," he said.
A devoutly religious woman, Talley credits God as the secret to her long life. "There's nothing I can do about it," she said.
More celebrations are on the agenda for Talley's birthday bash as people from all over the country want to meet her. There will be a party in her home and another get-together on Sunday at the New Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church where she has been a long time active member.
"Her love of God and love of church and love of people are just remarkable,” said her friend Wilson.
Happy 116th birthday, Jeralean! May you live to see 116 more!