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BIOGRAPHY

Gurley was born in Walker County, Georgia, USA, on 23 December 1891, as the sixth child born to parents John James Thomas (1858–1934) and Emma Lee Haines (1863–1941). She had two sisters and four brothers. She grew up on the family farm. She left school after completing the fifth grade in Sugar Valley.

On 22 October 1913, she married Thomas William Gurley (1889–1968), who worked with a detective agency in Chattanooga. The couple moved to Columbus in 1927 and opened a flower shop in 1932. They had a son, Thomas. In 1925, her niece, Doris Parham, moved in with the family, and they raised her as their own child. She taught herself to drive a car by watching her husband, and continued driving until she was 95. The couple sold their flower shop in 1959, and moved to Orlando afterwards. Later, she worked in a rest home and as a head of the bridal and fur department in a dress shop.

Her husband passed away in 1968, and their son died the following year from a heart attack.

At the age of 100, she credited her longevity to taking care of her body by eating vegetables, fruits, meats, as well as her faith in God. At the time, she had five grandchildren (two from her son, and three from her niece/adoptive daughter, Doris). At the time, she was still working as an in-house volunteer at Oak Manor Nursing Home to help care for patients much younger than herself.

Two of her aunts reportedly lived to be 102 and 101, respectively. Her youngest sister, Olyra Rainey (7 May 1904 – 8 February 2009), lived to be 104.

Gurley passed away in Columbus, Georgia, USA, on 19 January 2002, at the age of 110 years, 27 days.

RECOGNITION

Her age was verified by Oliver Thorpe, I.L. (anonymous), and Jimmy Lindberg, and validated by LongeviQuest on 29 April 2024.

ATTRIBUTION

* “At 100, she’s still making memories” – Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, 24 December 1991

* “106 years of Christmas memories” – Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, 24 December 1997

* John James Thomas – Find A Grave

* Emma M Thomas Gurley – Find A Grave

* Olyra Thomas Rainey – Hancock Funeral Home, February 2009

GALLERY

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