Ellen Goodwill’s birthday celebration was unlike any other in her 114 years on earth.
The resident of Advantage Living Center in Battle Creek waved through a window to longtime friends gathered in the parking lot, followed by a private party with staff featuring a cake donated from Continental Pastries & Delicatessen before she was wheeled through the halls of the care facility she has called home since 2007 for a celebratory birthday parade.
“I was excited to see her. I wanted to just touch her and hold her and kiss her, but quite naturally we blew kisses from the window,” said Sharon Miller, a family friend for over 60 years. “She lit up like a Christmas tree and was happy. The nurses and staff there were surrounding her with love.”
Goodwill was born Ellen Lear on Feb. 2, 1907. She is a supercentenarian — a person verified to have lived to be 110 or older — and currently is the oldest known living person in Michigan, as verified by the Gerontology Research Group.
Researchers estimate that one in every 8 million people in the U.S. live to become a supercentenarian. The current average life expectancy in the U.S. is 78.6 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The year Goodwill was born, the life expectancy of women in the U.S. was 49.9 years, according to the Berkeley Department of Demography.
The longest-lived person ever from the United States was Sarah Knauss, of Hollywood, Pennsylvania, who reached 119 years, 97 days before her death in 1999. The oldest person to ever live on record was Jeanne Calment, a French woman who lived 122 years and 164 days when she died in 1997.
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