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Published: Thursday, 7/8/2004

Woman still spry at 105

BY MEREDITH HEAGNEY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Emma Parks marks her 105th birthday with her daughter-in-law, Nettie Parr. Emma Parks marks her 105th birthday with her daughter-in-law, Nettie Parr.
MAXWELL / BLADE Enlarge

Two days after her 105th birthday, Emma Parr had her family laughing.

"Get your mind out of the gutter," she snapped at her granddaughter, Bonita Biddle, and her great-granddaughter, Tiffany Biddle.

They were giggling because Mrs. Parr had just explained that she met her husband "in a hotel."

After scolding them good-naturedly, she clarified that she was working at the hotel as an elevator operator. She couldn't remember whether the hotel was the Secor or the Waldorf. In her 91 years as a Toledo resident, it's understandably difficult to remember what happened when.

"It's been a long time, all right, but it don't seem that long to me," she said.

Yesterday, Mrs. Parr was joined by her family at the Lutheran Village at Wolf Creek nursing home in Springfield Township, where she resides. Dressed in a hot-pink sweater, a matching birthday hat, and gold shoes, she looked back on her many years.

The centenarian credits her faith and nothing else for her longevity. "It was God's will for me to live this long, that's all I can tell you," she said. "I'm glad that God has given me the health and strength."

Mrs. Parr, who was born in Knoxville, Tenn., was baptized in the Tennessee River. She is a devout Baptist who reads the Bible every night.

She also passes time watching television. She loves soap operas, but will only watch the ones on CBS.

This is her first year in any type of assisted living.

"She stayed at home, by herself, until she was 104," said the elder Ms. Biddle, adding that she grocery shopped for herself every Friday until December, 2002.

Her great-granddaughter can't believe how old "Mommy Emmers" actually is.

"She was 80 when I was born, and she was pretty active then," she said. "I don't think I realized how old she was."

Mrs. Parr is old enough to be the head of an enormous family of six generations. Both her children, Theodore and Dorothy, have passed away. Theodore was the first African-American to graduate from the University of Toledo's engineering school in 1947.

She also has outlived two of her six grandchildren.

She has 15 great-grandchildren, 21 great-great-grandchildren, and six great-great-great-grandchildren.

"I expect them to be good children," she said of her descendants.

Her family said that her hearing is poor, but her general health is still good and her mind is sharp. She also is proud of the life she has led.

"I made it," she said, adding that she doesn't want to see 110.

And why not?

"Maybe if you live this long, you'll know [why]."

Contact Meredith Heagney at:

mheagney@theblade.com

or 419-724-6050.



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