Local woman becomes supercentenarian, receives recognition from president

Local woman becomes supercentenarian, receives recognition from president

Supercentenarian Leola Washington smiles for the camera with Adrianne Miller-Betts at Union Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church. Mrs. Washington celebrated her 110th birthday on March 2, 2011.

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by Emerald Morrow

KMOV.com

Posted on March 2, 2011 at 5:50 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 25 at 6:42 PM

ST. LOUIS (KMOV) – Some say it’s serendipity. Others simply call it an anomaly. But if you ask Leola Washington what she thinks of turning 110, she’ll quickly tell you it’s a blessing.

“With the Lord giving me strength and knowledge, I feel just fine,” says Washington.

Less than 500 people in the entire world have earned the title of supercentenarian, and it’s not everyday that one gets to celebrate such a momentous occasion. But on March 2, 2011, Washington joined the ranks of supercentenarians across the globe.

Friends and church family members gathered Wednesday morning at Union Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church in north St. Louis to honor and pay tribute to Mrs. Washington.

Washington hails from Little Rock, Arkansas, but has lived in St. Louis for decades. She has been a long-time member of Union Tabernacle, and fellow members spoke fondly of their memories of Washington at the celebration, which kicked off with an emotional rendition of “Happy Birthday,” and followed with dozens of well wishes and salutes.

Among the host of cards acknowledgements Washington received on her birthday was a very special nod from President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. Mayor Francis Slay also offered formal recognition of Washington’s 110th year on earth.

While Washington no longer has her sight, her other senses are sharp as ever. Her memory and ability to recall events and even recognize voices she hadn’t heard in a long time was evident at her party.

Washington’s physician, Dr. Wit Jamry, was also in attendance at the celebration. He says he’s been caring for Washington for more than 12 years, and says she’s his oldest and most attentive patient.
 
Dr. Jamry specializes in geriatric care, and says he has about five centenarian patients that he visits in-home.

Washington is currently under the watch of the Garrison Care Center in north St. Louis where Dr. Jamry visits her about once a month. He says it’s an honor to serve and care for Washington. 

“I am very glad to help her celebrate her 110th birthday,” says Dr. Jamry. “I hope that we can meet again next year where we will celebrate her 111th birthday.”

When asked her secret was to living so long, Washington replied with no hesitation, “serving the man above.”
 

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