Oldest US resident, East Texas woman, turned 114 Tuesday - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

Oldest US resident, East Texas woman, turned 114 Tuesday

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courtesy of the Tyler Morning Telegraph
by Kelly Gooch
Eunice Sanborn celebrated a rare milestone Tuesday -- her 114th birthday.
A longtime Jacksonville resident, Ms. Sanborn is now the oldest person in the United States and the second oldest person in the world, according to the Gerontology Research Group. The oldest person in the world is Eugenie Blanchard, of France, whose birthday is Feb. 16, 1896.

Ms. Sanborn's birthday is actually July 20, 1895, but officials have used 1896 as her birth year, based on information they have.

Christine Bunn, Ms. Sanborn's friend and neighbor, said about 100 guests gathered at the First Baptist Church in Jacksonville to celebrate Ms. Sanborn's birthday, including the city's mayor, Dr. Robert Haberle.

She said Ms. Sanborn also received awards for being a supercentenarian -- those age 110 and older.

"So many were coming and going. She just really enjoyed it," Ms. Bunn said of the birthday party.

She added, "We had cake and punch and everybody enjoyed meeting her and signing her guest book."

And Haberle said he was pleased that he got to be part of her special day.

"It's hard to wrap your perception around the fact that she's the oldest living human in the United States," he said. "That was a concept that was hard to get a hold of. I felt privileged to be in her presence and have a conversation with her. She's very hard of hearing, but lucid. She laughed when I told her I was the mayor. She said 'I like mayors.'"

Haberle said Ms. Sanborn also "didn't miss a note" when she sang "Happy Birthday."

Ms. Sanborn was not available for comment Wednesday because she was resting.

However, Ms. Bunn said, her friend can't believe she has reached this point in her life.

"She's happy with her life and knows the Lord's keeping her here for a reason," she said, adding that Ms. Sanborn enjoys talking to people when she's awake.

Born in Lake Charles, La., Ms. Sanborn has outlived three husbands and her only child, Dorthy, who died about four years ago at age 90.

Her first husband, an oilman, died in an automobile crash about 1923.

His father was involved in the building of the Titanic, Ms. Bunn has said.

Ms. Sanborn helped her second husband, Wesley Garrett, whom she met in Lake Charles, build Love's Lookout, a recreation and entertainment center that opened near Jacksonville in 1937.

At the time, Love's Lookout featured Cherokee County's first cement-bottom swimming pool. In 1940, Garrett suffered a heart attack and died near the swimming pool.

Ms. Sanborn then bought a two-story Victorian house on Bonner Street, where she still resides, and lived there with her daughter and third husband, who died in the 1970s.

Ms. Sanborn always worked with the Republican Party in town and contributed financially to Jacksonville College. She is a lifetime member of Eastern Star.

Overall, she is "a pleasant person and enjoyable to be around," Haberle said.
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