Hazel Plummer (1908-2023), the oldest living person in the state of Massachusetts, and the Vice-doyenne of the USA, passes away at age 114

The Gerontology Research Group is saddened to announce the passing of Mrs. Hazel Plummer (1908-2023), the oldest living person in the state of Massachusetts, and the second-oldest living person in the USA, on May 25, 2023 at the age of 114 years, 340 days.

Hazel Plummer was born as Hazel Kathleen Downs in Somerville, Massachusetts, USA on June 19, 1908 to Harry and Margaret (née Allison) Downs. She had one older sister, Grace, and two older brothers, Elmer and George. In 1906, before Plummer was born, George died at the age of one. Plummer grew up a street apart from her future husband, Elmer – although they didn’t know it at the time. The two married in 1935 and had at least two children, Roger and David. After the eighth grade, Plummer went to trade school to become a seamstress. She went to work for an upscale designer on Newbury Street in Boston, Massachusetts. After marrying, she raised her children while her husband worked at a steel company and then in the children’s department of a department store. The family moved to Littleton, Massachusetts in 1957, where Plummer lived until her death.

After Plummer’s father died suddenly at the age of 74, her mother lived with the family for 22 years until her mother’s death at the age of 94. After her husband’s death in January 2000, Plummer spent 17 years living in her own second-floor apartment before moving to a nursing home in Littleton, Massachusetts, when she was 109. At the time of her 110th birthday in June 2018, Plummer had six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Plummer became the oldest known living person in the state of Massachusetts following the death of 112-year-old Dorothy Brown on November 26, 2019. In January 2020, her nursing home celebrated her achievement with a special party, and she also received a message from Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker. On December 30, 2020, at the age of 112, Plummer received her first dose of the Pfizer/BionTech vaccine, making her one of the oldest known people to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Since the death of Barbara Barton on August 12, 2022, Plummer had been one of only two American people born in 1908 who was still living (the other being Edie Ceccarelli). Since the death of Bessie Hendricks on January 3, 2023, she was one of only three American-born people remaining born before 1909 who was still living (the others being Maria Branyas Morera and Ceccarelli), and one of three American-born people remaining born in the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt. Plummer was the second-oldest validated living person in the United States, after Edie Ceccarelli, and the third-oldest validated living American-born person, after Maria Branyas Morera and Ceccarelli. She is also the second-oldest validated person ever from the U.S. state of Massachusetts, after Bernice Madigan. At the time of her death, Plummer ranked as the sixth-oldest living person in the world whose age is validated by the GRG, after Maria Branyas MoreraFusa TatsumiEdie CeccarelliTomiko Itooka, and Inah Canabarro Lucas.