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‘Intend to Take Care of Her, If She Don’t Outlive Me’: 114-Year-Old Atlanta Woman Celebrates Birthday with 97-Year-Old Sister By Her Side

The city of Atlanta has many national treasures, including being the childhood home of civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. However, one of its most inspirational offerings to the world is a 114-year-old woman named Nina Willis, who holds with her over a century of American history and is the “pride and joy” of her family.

At least, that is what her 97-year-old caretaker and sister Pecola Kirby says.

On the eve of her last birthday, which was Saturday, Jan. 14, Kirby told Atlanta News First that there was “Nothing I wouldn’t do for her. She is my pride and joy, so I intend to take care of her, if she don’t outlive me.”

Nina Willis is the third oldest person in U.S.
Nina Willis turned 114 on Jan. 14, 2023. Her sister, Pecola Kirby, will turn 98 in March. (Photo: Fox 5 Atlanta)

The sisters are the last living siblings of a nuclear family of 22 (including their parents), and their images dot a wall of memories dating back to the 1800s of those who have gone on before them.

Fox 5 Atlanta suggests that Willis might be Georgia’s oldest resident, being born in 1909. Back then, she lived in Robinson, Georgia, with her 19 brothers and sisters and worked on a farm before moving to the big city. While not born in Atlanta, she has spent the majority of her life in the once capital of the South. Once she arrived in Atlanta, she took a job as a domestic worker and also worked in Kessler’s Department Store.

For the past 76 years, she has called Atlanta her home. It is where she met and fell in love with Charles Willis, who ultimately became her husband. The couple never had children but have helped raise some family members.

Willis loves her city and has received recognition from several mayors over the years. She also loves the Braves, her team. Family members share That both she and Kirby are avid baseball fans, with an ability to spit stats like some of the sport’s biggest fans.

Kirby, who turns 98 on March 3, solely takes care of her sister. The two live alone together and keep each other company. She said about the illustrious occasion, “I’m glad that she made it to 114.”

Beverly Frazier, Willis’ niece is also happy she made it to the milestone year. She said the supercentenarian is an inspiration to her and is more than just an aunt, but like a mother to her. She recalls that even at 100, Willis was remarkably sharp and as astute as someone half her age.

“Still reading the newspaper with no glasses. We would be sitting here and looking out the window, and she would be able to see the planes in the sky, and I’m like ‘Where?’” Frazier said.

The two, Willis and Kirby, are not the only family members with extraordinary longevity. Their brother Bethuel Frazier, who died in 2011, lived to be 109.

The sisters remain graceful after all of these years and Kirby shared why she believes they have enjoyed such long lives. She said the key is “doing the right thing and treating people right.”

Frazier concurs and says that’s really what she knows about them, saying, “They are just loving people and caring people, and they love God. … You can see the love that they exude and that love comes back to us.”

The sweet peach was celebrated by her family on Saturday with family and friends coming to spend time with her. Her cake was pink, green, and cream, and affectionately read, “Happy 114th Birthday Aunt Nina.”

One statement to sum up the day, Willis said was “Glory. God is good.”

Willis is currently the third-oldest person in the United States. Two people who are older than Willis are two women born in 1908, Hazel Plummer (second-oldest) and Edie Ceccarelli (oldest), according to the Press Democrat.

The Gerontology Research Group states there are only three other people known in the world to be older than these three. They are Lucille Randon of France, at 118 years (France); Maria Branyas Morera, at 115 years (Spain), and Fusa Tatsumi, at 115 years (Japan).

Another person nipping at their heels is Winnell Shaw, who lives not far from Willis and Kirby. She turned 105 on Jan. 7, a week before Willis, according to 11 Alive.

During her younger years, Shaw served as a seamstress. The widow and mother of four proudly has 13 grandchildren who all adore her. An artist, many look at her drawings and celebrate them as much as they did the clothes she made.

But like many seniors, she can no longer care for herself. She currently resides in an assisted living facility with the support of the African American Financial Empowerment Connection, an organization that helped raise money to cover many of the expenses she and others in her community might have.

Anyone from the public can support the AAFEC and the work they do to help seniors like Shaw by clicking here.

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