In August 2007, a resident of Shelbyville earned global recognition for the central Indiana city. Upon the death of Japan’s Yone Minegawa that month, 114-year-old Hoosier Edna Scott Parker rose from the position of the nation’s oldest person to the world’s reigning supercentenarian.
Born April 20, 1893 on a farm near the Shelby County town of Bengal, Edna finished high school and obtained a teaching certificate from Franklin College. She taught in a two-room school in Smithland before marrying her neighbor Earl Parker in 1911, and retiring–as was the custom for married ladies in that era– from her fledgling career in the classroom for life on the farm. A widow since 1938, Edna Parker has also outlived her two sons, but can claim five grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren, and innumerable great-great-grandchildren.
She received congratulations from the White House on turning 113, when she was the fourth-ranked senior in the U.S. By her next birthday, she had assumed the mantle of the nation’s most senior citizen, receiving not only another letter from the President, but a visit from Governor Mitch Daniels, who presented Parker with the Sagamore of the Wabash award. The same occasion merited the attention of Guinness World Records, which documented an historic visit between Parker and Muncie resident Bertha Fry, age 113. The event broke a record for the “ highest aggregate age of two people meeting each other.”
Edna Parker lived on her Bengal-area farm until turning 100, when she moved to the Heritage House Convalescent Center in Shelbyville. Incidentally, Heritage House is home to another world’s record-holder: Sandy Allen, who at 7 feet 7 is the world’s tallest woman.