The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

World, nation, state

January 6, 2013

South Carolina woman, oldest living U.S. citizen, dies at 114

A 114-year-old South Carolina woman who was the oldest living U.S. citizen has died, two of her daughters said Saturday.

Mamie Rearden of Edgefield, who held the title as the country’s oldest person for about two weeks, died Wednesday at a hospital in Augusta, Ga., said Sara Rearden of Burtonsville, Md., and Janie Ruth Osborne of Edgefield. They said their mother broke her hip after a fall about three weeks ago.

Gerontology Research Group, which verifies age information for Guinness World Records, listed Mamie Rearden as the oldest living American after last month’s passing of 115-year-old Dina Manfredini of Iowa. Rearden’s Sept. 7, 1898, birth was recorded in the 1900 U.S. Census, the group’s Robert Young said.

Rearden was more than a year younger than the world’s oldest person, 115-year-old Jiroemon Kimura of Japan.

“My mom was not president of the bank or anything, but she was very instrumental in raising a family and being a community person,” said Sara Rearden, her youngest child. “Everybody can’t go be president of a bank or president of a college, but we feel just as proud of her in her role as housewife and particularly as mother and homemaker.”

Mamie Rearden, who was married to her husband Oacy for 59 years until his death in 1979, raised 11 children, 10 of whom survive, Sara Rearden said. She lived in the family homestead with a son and a daughter on land that had been in the family since her father’s accumulation of acreage made him one of the area’s largest black landowners.

Her father sent her off to earn a teaching certificate at Bettis Academy on the far side of the county, spending an entire day on a loaded wagon to reach the school along dirt roads, her daughter said. She taught for several years until becoming pregnant with her third child.

In the mid-1960s at age 65, when some settled into retirement, she learned to drive a car for the first time and started volunteering for an Edgefield County program that had her driving to the end of remote rural roads to find children whose parents were keeping them home from school, Sara Rearden said.

Mamie Rearden always counseled that her children should treat others as they wanted to be treated and that included never gossiping or speaking ill of others. When asked about a preacher’s uninspiring sermon, her daughter recalled her mother saying: “‘Well, it came from the Bible.’ She never would bad-mouth them.”

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