March 24, 2010

USA: "Even at age 112, Florence Poe's memory was better than ours"

. CAPE GIRARDEAU, Missouri / Southeast / News / March 24, 2010 Missouri's oldest documented person dies in Cape Girardeau By Alaina Busch ~ Southeast Missourian Tuesday, March 23, 2010 Even at age 112 Florence Poe was never at a loss for remembering the names and places of her past. "She remembered every time," said granddaughter Cecile Busch. "It was embarrassing that her memory was better than ours." Poe, the oldest documented Missourian, died in Cape Girardeau over the weekend. She died Sunday at Saint Francis Medical Center after suffering a stroke last week, Busch said. "She was a pretty remarkable gal right up to the end," she said. "She was clear in her mind and wonderful to talk to." Florence Poe, right, celebrated her 109th birthday with a letter from President George W. and Laura Bush presented by Cape Girardeau Councilwoman and Mayor Pro Tem Marcia Ritter and a birthday party held Thursday, Aug. 24, 2006, at Fountainbleau Lodge. (Southeast Missourian file photo) Born Aug. 24, 1897, Poe was the seventh-oldest documented person in the country and the 16th-oldest documented person in the world. The California-based Gerontology Research Group verified her birth records after she became a supercentenarian, or 110, Busch said. The family provided census information and family Bibles to verify Poe's age because there were no birth certificates at the time she was born, she said. Poe was born in Farmington, Mo., and was raised in Canalou, Mo. She was the youngest of nine children born to William and Malinda Robinson, who had arrived in Missouri in a covered wagon. She married Lester Poe on Feb. 28, 1917. Poe and her husband ran a neighborhood grocery store in Charleston, Mo., Busch said. She and her mother lived with Poe while her father fought in World War II. "She was my comfort and my joy," Busch said. Busch said Poe lived on her own until well into her 90s when she moved in with one of her daughters in Cape Girardeau. Other than her blindness, Busch said, she had few medical problems. Recently she started using hearing aids. "She didn't like them, and she was just as apt to take them out," Busch said. Poe is survived by three daughters, nine grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren, several great-great-grandchildren and a great-great-great-grandchild. Poe's mother was almost 104 when she died and her oldest daughter is 91, Busch said. Poe was a resident at Ratliff Care Center. Administrator Michael Ratliff said she was active for her age. She fed herself and walked regularly, he said. "A number of residents couldn't do as much for themselves as Mrs. Poe," he said. Ratliff said he once asked her about the secret to her longevity. "She said, 'Well, honey, you just got to keep breathing,'" he said. [rc] Alaina Busch E-Mail: © Copyright 2010