Oldest Living American, New York Woman Alelia Murphy, Dies At 114

Alelia Murphy, 114, has died in New York City, just months after being named the oldest living American.

Murphy’s death was announced Wednesday by the 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, a health care workers union of which her daughter, 71-year-old Rose Green, was a member.

“It is with great sadness that we share news of the passing of Mrs. Alelia Murphy. Mrs. Murphy was the oldest living American, having celebrated her 114th birthday in July, surrounded by her family, friends, community leaders, and members of our AFRAM Caucus,” the statement read.

“Our deepest condolences are with Mrs. Murphy’s daughter, 1199SEIU Montefiore retiree Rose Green, and with the rest of their family during this difficult time.”

Murphy had celebrated on July 6 with her friends and family as she reached the milestone of 114, which, with verification by the Gerontology Research Group (GRG), made her the oldest living American.

She was just two years younger than the oldest person in the world, Japanese man Kane Tanaka, 116. According to GRG, Hester Ford, of Charlotte, North Carolina, also 114, is now the oldest living American.

During Murphy’s last birthday ― which she celebrated in a long yellow dress and tiara at the Harlem State Office Building in New York ― she had given a word of advice on living a long life. “Treat people right,” she said, according to “Good Morning America.”

Murphy was born in North Carolina and moved to Manhattan in 1926, and her contributions to the community and her church made her a local icon. She was widowed in 1953 and supported her two children as a seamstress.

She had worked several jobs throughout her life, including working in a hat factory and becoming a top seller of cosmetic products, “GMA” reported at the time. 

Green had said that growing up through the pre-civil rights era, her mother had to drink from separate water fountains and enter stores and restaurants through different doors than her white peers.

“She always taught me to keep going, whatever happens,” Green told “GMA.”

Officials in Harlem had declared on July 6 that the birthday was cause for community celebration, calling it “Alelia Murphy Appreciation Day.”

New York state Sen. Brian Benjamin had thanked Murphy for her contributions to the local community and declared her a “Harlem landmark.”

A funeral service will take place on Dec. 6 at the United House of Prayer for All People, in Harlem. 

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