Nina Willis (1909-2023), the oldest living African-American passes away at the age of 114

The Gerontology Research Group is saddened to announce the passing of Mrs. Nina Willis (1909-2023), the oldest living African-American person, on May 17, 2023 at the age of 114 years, 123 days.

Nina Willis was born on 14 January 1909 in Robinson, Georgia, USA, and grew up in the town working as a farmer. She was the 13th out of 20 children. One of her brothers, Bethuel Frazier (1902–2011), lived to the age of 109, making them one of the oldest sibling pairs on record. In 1947, she moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where she did domestic work and worked in Kessler’s Department Store. She was married to Charles Willis, and the couple did not have any children. Willis lived in a retirement home in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. She still watched baseball and basketball whenever there were games on TV, and read the newspaper every day. Her caretaker was her sister, Pecola Kirby, with whom she was very close.

Willis had been the oldest known living person in the state of Georgia since the death of Willie Mae Hardy on 11 December 2019.

Since the death of Bessie Hendricks on 3 January 2023, Willis was one of only three people living in the United States that were born in the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt, the other two being Edie Ceccarelli, and Hazel Plummer. However, Maria Branyas Morera was born in the United States before all three of these supercentenarians, but lives in Spain.

At the time of her death, Willis was the third-oldest validated living person in the United States (after Edie Ceccarelli and Hazel Plummer), and the fourth-oldest validated living American-born person (after Maria Branyas Morera, Ceccarelli, and Plummer). She was also the seventh-oldest living person in the world whose age is validated by the GRG.

Nina WIllis’s age was verified by Robert D. YoungWaclaw Jan Kroczek, and Oliver Thorpe, and validated by the GRG on January 4, 2023.