Thelma White – 105 years


April 12, 1905

I received a response from Thelma White’s daughter Elizabeth A. Garrett.  She sent a typed letter and the photo (above) taken on April 12th, 2009, her 104th birthday.

Her letter reads:

Thelma Marie Faulkner White

Thelma was born on April 12, 1905 in Leeds, Ala.  She was the second youngest of 12 siblings.  Her father was a land owner and her mother was a homemaker and midwife.

She married Herman H. White in 1924 and they moved to Tampa, Florida in 1928 where they raised two daughters.  Elizabeth A. Garrett and Dorothy R. Hardy, and has six grandchildren and six great grandchildren.  Her husband died in 1963 and she never remarried.

Thelma was a homemaker, seamstress and assistant to an interior decorator. She was a fan of detective stores in print and on television.

She lived by herself until she broke her hip when she was 96 then she came and lived with her daughter Elizabeth in Clearwater, Florida.  She now has trouble seeing and has a small heart condition and is living in a rehabilitation center.

Thelma never drank or smoked and always preferred vegetables over meat and attributes her longevity to a love of sweet potatoes.

She always has a story to tell and her memory is amazing.

Hope this will help and good luck in your writing.

Her daughter Betty.

Thanks Betty!  Thelma is among many centenarians to come who have never drank or smoked, two known contributors to aging.  Her preference of vegetables over meat appears to have served her well.  According to the Chicago Health and Aging Project, older adults (65+) who consume at least 3 servings of vegetables daily maintain their mental abilities 40% longer than those who eat less servings.

Foods rich in antioxidants are believed to help decrease the effects of aging.  Oxidation can cause cell damage and may attribute to aging.  One antioxidant beta carotene, is found in Mrs. White’s favorite food: sweet potatoes.  It can also be found in other orange and yellow vegetables such as carrots and pumpkin.  Diets rich in beta carotene have been correlated with a reduced risk of certain kinds of cancer, especially lung, female reproductive , gastrointestional, and oral cancers.  Also in clinical trials it has actually been shown to reverse precancerous lesions.  Some evidence suggests it may decrease the risk of cataract formation.  What can’t beta carotene do?

Thelma sounds like a lovely woman and I hope her many years to come.  Also, I hope someone is fixing her favorite sweet potato dish right now.

Veggies Boost Brain Power. American Dietetic Association. July 13, 2009.
A. Catherine Ross, PhD, Maureen E Ternus MS, RD. Vitamin A as a hormone: Recent advances in understanding the actions of retinol, retinoic acid, and beta carotene.

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