3 August 1895Ames, Iowa, United States


6 April 2010Ames, Iowa, United States



Neva Morris

Neva Morris (née Freed) was a validated American supercentenarian who was the oldest living person in the United States at the time of death.

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Neva Morris was born Ames, Iowa on 3 August 1895, the youngest of four children born to parents Schuyler and Carebie Freed. Her father was well-known in the region for raising Durock Jersey hogs, which he would use to win championships at the state fair, and attracted buyers from across the Midwest. Neva, along with her three siblings, attended a one room schoolhouse through to the eighth grade, before later attending Ames High School. As a teenager, she first received her drivers license, and developed a fondness for driving her car fast. Throughout her life, she would drive around Iowa, often reaching speeds of up to 85 miles per hour before national speed limit laws were passed in the 1970s.

On 30 December 1914, she married Edward L. Morris, and the couple would go on to have four children. Together with her husband, they spent much of their careers tending a 224 acre farm in Ames, which was originally owned by Edward’s parents. In 1917, Edward graduated from Iowa State College with a degree in engineering – the money they earned raising chickens, hogs, and dairy cattle would eventually allow them to send all four of their children to the same university. The couple would later spend a few years living in Chicago while Edward worked as an engineer and teacher, before returning to their farm in 1925 due to the effects of the Great Depression. Neva later looked back on this period fondly, considering it the best time of her life.

Following her husband’s death in 1960, she continued to live in the same two-story farm house her husband had built in 1939, and would remain there for over 55 years, before moving into the North Grand Care Center at the age of 99. She drove until the age of 95, having bought a 1985 Mercury Grand Marquis at the age of 90, and enjoyed an entirely accident free 78 year-long driving career. She was a member of Collegiate United Methodist Church for 60 years, and for 75 years was active in Eastern Star. She enjoyed singing in women’s choral groups, and would retain her love for singing into her later years, and would often sing “You Are My Sunshine” with her son-in-law, Tom Wickersham (1919-2013), who was 91 at the time of her mother-in-law’s death.

On 6 April 2010, at around 4 in the morning, Neva Morris died at the age of 114 years, 246 days, with her son-in-law by her side. She was survived by one son, eight grandchildren, nineteen great-grandchildren, and several great-great-grandchildren.

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Following the death of Mary Josephine Ray on 7 March 2010, Morris became the oldest living person in the United States. She would hold this title for just one month before her death. Her age was officially validated by the Gerontology Research Group on 2 May 2006.

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* Neva Freed Morris – Ames History Museum

* Oldest American dies at 114 in Iowa – The Courier 6 April 2010