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Want to live up to 114? Oldest person in the US says 'speak your mind'

Elizabeth Francis on her 114th birthday.
Elizabeth Francis on her 114th birthday.

A 114-year-old woman in Houston, Elizabeth Francis, has become the oldest living person in the United States, LongeviQuest said Friday.

Francis became the oldest person in the U.S., following the death of 116-year-old Edie Ceccarelli of California, who passed away on Feb. 22, according to LongeviQuest. She is the fifth oldest living person in the world, as per Gerontology Research Group.

Born in Louisiana, raised in Texas

Francis was born on Jul. 25, 1909 in Louisiana, according to her profile on LongeviQuest. Following her mother's death, she and her five siblings were sent to different homes and Francis ended up in Houston, where she was raised by her aunt and lived since.

She gave birth to her only daughter, Dorothy Williams, in 1928, whom she raised as a single mother, operating a coffee shop at ABC 13 News in Houston to support herself and her daughter. She ran the place for almost 20 years, retiring in 1975. In 1999, she moved in with her daughter.

In July 2023, on her 114th birthday, Francis "had three grandchildren, five great-grandchildren and four great-great-grandchildren," according to LongeviQuest.

Francis' secret to living a long life

Francis credits her longevity to her faith in God, speaking her mind and eating whatever she wants. The supercentenarian only began requiring a wheelchair for mobility when she was almost 108.

“If the Good Lord gave it to you, use it! Speak your mind, don’t hold your tongue," Francis told LongeviQuest when asked the secret behind her long life.

On her birthday party in July 2022, Francis told News Centre Maine that she credits her long life to eating whatever she wanted. She also said that she doesn't smoke or drink, except for the occasional glass of wine.

Elizabeth Francis on her 114th birthday with her daughter Dorothy Williams (R) and her granddaughter Ethel Harrison (L).
Elizabeth Francis on her 114th birthday with her daughter Dorothy Williams (R) and her granddaughter Ethel Harrison (L).

Francis' granddaughter Ethel Harrison told The Washington Post in August 2023 that her grandmother led a very simple life and never learnt how to drive, relying on the bus and friends to take her around.

“She never learned to drive, so she took the bus to work or people in the family would give her a ride,” Harrison told the Post. “She also did a lot of walking, so maybe that explains some of her longevity.”

“Her life was always pretty simple: early to bed, early to rise, work hard, then come home and make a nutritious meal and be with family,” Harrison added.

Edith Ceccarelli: Hometown celebrated 116th birthday with a big bash, days before her death

'Admired around the world'

Elizabeth Francis receiving a plaque honoring her status as the "Oldest Living Texan" on 30 July 2023 by LongeviQuest CEO, Ben Meyers.
Elizabeth Francis receiving a plaque honoring her status as the "Oldest Living Texan" on 30 July 2023 by LongeviQuest CEO, Ben Meyers.

Having lived for more than a century, Francis has witnessed it all from World War I to the Great Depression and the adoption of the 19th Amendment, that granted women the right to vote to the first female Vice President as well as COVID.

“Ms. Elizabeth Francis is admired around the world, both for her longevity and her approach to life," LongeviQuest Chief Executive Ben Meyers said in a statement. "Reaching this milestone was never an aspiration for her, merely a byproduct of how she lived her life every day, doing right by her loved ones and by God. We can all learn from her example.”

Francis is not the only one in her family to live a long life. Her older Bertha Johnson lived to the age of 106 before passing away in 2011, according to LongeviQuest, making them "one of the oldest sibling pairs".

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Oldest person in the US is now 114-year-old Elizabeth Francis