'This is a blessing, the Lord's blessing': Texas' oldest woman celebrates her 114th birthday

At 114, Elizabeth Francis is the oldest person in Texas and second-oldest in the United States.

Melanie Lawson Image
Thursday, August 10, 2023
'This is a blessing': The oldest woman in Texas turns 114 years old
Only a handful of people can call themselves "super centenarians." ABC13 sat down with a 114-year-old Houstonian, her 94-year-old daughter, and 68-year-old granddaughter to talk about her history-making life.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A Houston woman's "super" accomplishment is making history in the state of Texas.

A "centenarian" is the term for someone who's reached 100 or older. The number of centenarians is growing -- nearly doubling since the year 2000.

There are now more than 90,000 people in the U.S. alone who can be called centenarians.

However, there's an even more jaw-dropping category -- people who are 110 and older. They're called "super centenarians," and one super Houston woman just made history.

Elizabeth Francis turned an astounding 114 years old this week, making history. As friends and five generations of her family celebrated her remarkable milestone, a film crew from Norway and a researcher from Florida came to record her birthday, and present her with a plaque.

Researcher Ben Meyers follows the longevity of people across the globe.

"She is the oldest in Texas, the oldest living person in Texas, number two in the United States, number seven in the world, and number two in the world who lives at home. You live in your castle," he said.

When asked, "How does it feel to be 114 years old?" Francis said, "I don't know, I just thank the good Lord for keeping me."

Francis' long life seems to be genetic. Her sister lived to be 106, her daughter is 94, and her granddaughter and caregiver is 68.

SEE ALSO: 102-year-old Houstonian celebrates her next birthday sharing monumental events seen in her lifetime

Houstonian and centenarian, 102-year-old Clarice Freeman, is among the nation's small population of seniors who live to be 100 years old.

Her daughter, Dorothy Williams, says that when she tells people her mother's age, they immediately react. "They don't say you're crazy, they just say you're lying," Williams said.

When Francis was born in 1909, William Taft was president, 90% of all babies were born at home, and women and Black people could not vote.

Francis can no longer remember most of the extraordinary history she's lived through, like World Wars, segregation and two pandemics. But, she is able to tell you how she's lived her remarkable life.

"Now do you smoke, Miss Elizabeth??" ABC13's Melanie Lawson asked.

"Never had," she said.

"Do you drink?"

"Oh, no, ma'am!" Francis said.

"What do you eat?"

"Everything," she said with a laugh.

Francis' granddaughter, Ethel Harrison, believes a lot of her longevity is in "her lifestyle."

"She always grew her vegetables in the backyard. I never saw her go to a fast food restaurant much as like Chick-fil-A and all the places I liked to go. She never did that," Harrison said.

"Whenever you went to her house, I don't care what day of the week, she was cooking. So, I just think that had a lot to do with it, too," Harrison said. "Just how she took care of her body and things like that."

Francis has three grandchildren, five great-grandchildren and four great-great grandchildren.

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Living to 100 years old and beyond used to be unheard of. ABC13 spoke with a woman who celebrated her 100th birthday, and her advice for those who want a long life.

Her sister lived to be 106, making them among the oldest siblings on record.

Francis' daughter says it's not fame, but family, that is most important to her.

"It's hard to believe, but it's a blessing." Williams said. "Because she has been a wonderful mother and grandmother to all of us. She has been our backbone."

Amazingly, Francis had another family -- at ABC13. She ran the station's coffee shop back in the 70's and early 80's.

Francis said Anchor Dave Ward was her best customer, and Consumer Reporter Marvin Zindler drove her crazy. She said she'd tell him, "Marvin get out of here! Get, get!"

Her granddaughter says Francis' gift to others is the wisdom and advice she shares -- thanks to her incredible life.

"I think generosity, being generous," Harrison said. "Treating people like you want to be treated, even though sometimes it might not be reciprocated, but that's not the way God wants you to do. He wants you to be generous and kind."

Geriatric Physician Dr. Holly Holmes said Francis has done everything right when it comes to living longer and it's advice almost everyone can follow.

"Things that we know we need to do like moving more, eating better, having a more plant-based diet, having social connections, avoiding loneliness and isolation," Dr. Holmes said.

When Melanie asked, "Why do you think you've lived so long?" Francis' response was, "This is a blessing, the Lord's blessing."

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SEE ALSO: ABC13 Anchor Emeritus Dave Ward honored with street marker in Upper Kirby

ABC13 Anchor Emeritus Dave Ward, who was at KTRK for 50 years, has a street marker at the corner of Bissonnet and Westchester in Upper Kirby.