Elizabeth Francis of Houston, Texas, is 114 years old — and now the oldest living American.
The Louisiana native was born mere months after President William Taft was inaugurated and 11 years before women won the right to vote. Francis has since lived through two World Wars, the moon landing, JFK assassination and COVID-19 pandemic.
Her new title was determined by LongeviQuest, an international organization and “premier database on the life and times of the world’s oldest people.” Francis was the second-oldest living American until Edie Ceccarelli of California died Thursday at 116 years old.
While Francis was asked about her secret to longevity when she spoke with Today.com in August, the grateful great-great-grandmother responded, “It’s not my secret. It’s the good Lord’s blessing. I just thank God I’m here.”
“Try to do the best thing you can to everybody,” she told the outlet. “Love everybody.”
Her age was validated by the Gerontology Research Group, which tracks the world’s oldest people, as the fifth-oldest person on Earth. Born July 25, 1909, in St. Mary Parish, Francis moved to Houston as a child to live with her aunt when her mom died.
She worked in a cafeteria at the local ABC13 News station for 20 years and retired in 1975.
The supercentenarian isn’t the only one in her family who lived to be older than 100, however, as Francis’ sister Bertha Johnson died at 106 years old in 2011.
Francis also has a 94-year-old daughter, Dorothy Williams, as well as three grandchildren, five great-grandchildren and four great-great-grandkids. She lives in a private residence under the daily supervision of caregivers, and has maintained a quiet lifestyle.
“She tried to do things to stay healthy,” her granddaughter Ethel Harrison told Today.com in August. “Her life basically was pretty simple. She didn’t go out to parties and stuff like that. She was more of a homebody. She would go to church.”
“It’s just amazing,” she added. “We’re so grateful that she’s still here.”
While Francis herself attributes her long life to her faith, Harrison shared a few tangible things that have helped her thrive: socializing, regular walks and home-cooked food. Francis has been confined to her bed for the past few years, but is still full of life.
As Francis told LongeviQuest during her recent certification as the oldest living American, her biggest advice is bravery: “If the good Lord gave it to you, use it! Speak your mind, don’t hold your tongue!”