February 12, 2010

USA: Ragan is Nebraska's oldest person

. OMAHA, Nebraska / Omaha World-Herald / News / February 12, 2010 By Kevin Cole, World-Herald Staff Writer The mantle of being Nebraska's oldest resident has passed to Mabel Ragan of Albion. Ragan, 109 years and 11 days old as of today, became the state's top centenarian when Leona Gleed died Sunday in a Norfolk nursing home at the age of 109 years, 316 days. Centenarians can credit “good genes” for their longevity, said Dr. L. Stephen Coles of the Gerontology Research Group in Los Angeles. “Good genes are the most important element to living a long life,” Coles said. “Good genes help people escape from heart disease, cancer, diabetes … all manner of diseases that typically cut short our lives.” Advertising The oldest Iowa resident is Neva Morris of Ames. Morris, 114 years and 192 days, was born Aug. 3, 1895. She is believed to be the third-oldest person in the world. E.A. Kral, a retired teacher and researcher who lives in Wilber, Neb., said Leona Gleed was the oldest twin in Nebraska history. Her twin brother, Leo, died in 1990 at age 89. Kral said the twins were born March 28, 1900, near Page, Neb. They were among 11 children born to Edward and Sarah Adams. Leona Adams married rancher Lloyd Gleed on Feb. 14, 1926, at Dakota City. They lived on a ranch west of Chambers, where they farmed and raised three daughters. After her husband died in 1963, Gleed studied library science at Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln. She returned to Holt County in 1966 to live in O'Neill. She moved to Norfolk in 1992. Gleed once told Kral that her secret to longevity was to stay busy and appreciate each day. “Don't miss anything,” she said. “Make every minute count, keep up your activities. That is a good way to get old.” A funeral service for Gleed was held Thursday at the United Methodist Church in Chambers. She is survived by daughters Celesta Cooke of Norfolk, Armetta Prill of Tulsa, Okla., and Doris Covault of Des Moines; 14 grandchildren, 30 great-grandchildren; 31 great-great-grandchildren; and a sister, Etha Walters of Grand Island. Ragan, born Feb. 1, 1901, on a farm near Newman Grove, lives at the Wolf Memorial Good Samaritan Center in Albion. She graduated from Albion High School in 1919. Nebraska's second-oldest living resident is Mabel Holman Holliday, 108, of Nemaha County, born May 6, 1901. She is followed by Rose Koch Portwood, 107, of Jefferson County, born March 5, 1902; Sophie Becker of Boone County, 107, born Dec. 30, 1902; and Eleanor Wrede Nielsen, 107, of Knox County, born Jan. 26, 1903. Becker, like Ragan, lives at the Albion care center. The world's oldest person as of todayis said to be Kama Chinen of Japan, 114 years and 278 days, according to the Los Angeles gerontology group. Mary Ray of Westmoreland, N.H., is the oldest living American at 114 years and 271 days. [rc] Copyright ©2010 Omaha World-Herald