Cape’s Oldest Woman Dies at 112

When I saw a headline in The Southeast Missourian that Florence Poe, Cape Giradeau’s oldest woman had died at 112, it didn’t register very high on my interest meter because I didn’t have any connection with her, John Donne and “never send to know for whom the bell tolls,” not withstanding.

That’s when Wife Lila pointed out that her sister, Marty Perry Riley, had painted the woman’s portrait when Mrs. Poe was 107. Marty said that one of the most striking things that she wanted to capture was the beauty of Mrs. Poe braiding her long, white hair every morning.

Mrs. Poe at her 110th birthday celebration

Marty took these two photos at Mrs. Poe’s 110th birthday celebration. The woman was blind – “her eyes just gave out” – and her body was old, but she was “sharp as a tack. She would tell stories of coming to the area in a covered wagon.”

The Missourian’s obit by Alaina Busch said that Mrs. Poe was born Aug. 24, 1897, and was the seventh oldest documented person in this country and 16th oldest in the world. That’s the info that the Gerontology Research Group had current as of March 15, 2010.

Mrs. Poe is survived by three daughters and – as the old obit phrase used to go – “a host of other friends and relatives.” Her mother was almost 104 when she died; her oldest daughter is 91.

She wanted to prove she could walk

Mrs. Poe was fiercely independent, Marty said. When she turned 110, she wanted to let people know that she could still walk. She was delivered to party in a purple and white lace-decorated wheel chair, but she walked to the table on her own.

Mrs. Poe died March 21 after suffering a stroke.

Thanks to Marty for providing the images and memories. I love the regal and dignified look she captured. Mrs. Poe is no longer a stranger to me. I’ve heard John Donne’s bell.

8 Replies to “Cape’s Oldest Woman Dies at 112”

  1. Wow 112 years!…she was at the same home in Cape that used to be the Starlite Drive In movie!…now that I remember. My Grandmother and Grandfather where at the same home in the mid 90’s until passing away. Nice place, nice people there too!
    Thanks Ken for Sharing… It seems that we all are connected in live if you do a little looking.

  2. Thanks Ken for the story…the painting & photos capture Mrs. Poe’s regal beauty & character ….what an amazing lady…would have been an honor to have known her…thanks for sharing!

  3. Wow,I can’t believe the photo I just saw on CBS news was one that Marty Ann painted. She is unbelievable as an artist. Makes me proud to say that she is my first cousin. Thanks Ken…and tell Lila it was great seeing her this week.love Margie

  4. Margie,

    Was it Marty’s photo or painting that you saw or was it the woman she did the images of?

    If they used her images without permission, that’s not right and they should know better.

    Lila was happy to see the family this weekend, but she wishes it could have been under different circumstances. She’s really enjoying spending her Social Security check on airfare back to reconnect with friends and family in Cape after 40 years of being away.

  5. My mother (Florence’s daughter “Tod”) purchased Marty’s painting. I have a framed print of it and I consider it a personal treasure. We have taken many, many photos of Mamaw over the past years, especially during her birthday, but there is only one painting. Now that she has passed on, I’m realizing just how much of a treasure this painting is. Thank you so much Marty.

  6. Florence was my great Grandmother. Her daughter, Evelyn, is my grandmother. My mom, is Peggy. I was hoping to take my daughters, Rachael and Audrey, to see their great, great grandma Florence this summer. We miss her but will always talk about her grace.

    Marty, thank you for sharing your art with everyone!

  7. I had the privilege of meeting Mrs. Poe last year at the nursing home. I had gone there to see visit a friend. My friend, Sandy Woodward-Glueck, was the Activity Director. Sandy took me in to meet Mrs. Poe. She was quite a lady. You are correct Kenny, she was sharp as a tack. Her hearing was pretty good also. I really enjoyed that day.

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