By Andrea Karshan
New York’s elected officials and New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) Chair and CEO Shola Olatoye today planted a tree on the Vandalia Senior Center grounds to honor the life of Susannah “Miss Susie” Mushatt Jones, who died earlier this year at 116 as the then world’s oldest living person and last living American born in the 19th Century.
Miss Susie spent the last 30 years of her life as a resident of the Vandalia Avenue Houses and the senior center, where care givers and other seniors doted on, cared for and loved her. Also on hand for the tree planting were State Senator Roxanne Persaud, Assemblyman Charles Barron and City Councilwoman Inez Barron.
“Armed with a humanistic spirit, imbued with a sense of compassion, and comforted by a loving family, Susannah Mushatt Jones leaves behind a legacy which will long endure the passage of time and will remain as a comforting memory to all she served and befriended,” wrote Persaud in a Senate resolution that she produced for the event.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who did not attend the event, said in an emailed statement that as the tree that was planted grows tall and strong, it will reflect the legacy of Susannah Mushatt Jones, a pillar her community in Brooklyn.
“In her 116 years, Miss Susie lived a chronicle of American history, from her birth in 1899 to tenant farmers in Jim Crow-era Alabama to voting for the first black president of the United States, twice. This tree will continue to remind residents of the Vandalia Senior Center and throughout East New York of her kindness and generosity of spirit,” said Adams.
Susannah “Miss Susie” Mushatt Jones (July 6, 1899—May 12, 2016) was born in Alabama, she then moved to New York. She worked as a housekeeper and nanny for many families, helped send nieces to college with her salary and funded The Calhoun Club, a college scholarship for African-American students. In 1983, Miss Susie moved into the Vandalia Avenue Houses for seniors in East New York. She participated in the “tenant patrol team” until she was 106.
Jones became the oldest living person in New York, and then the oldest living person in the United States. Jones received a birthday letter from President Obama, which hangs on her wall. Last year, Guinness World Records officially declared her the world’s oldest person. Jones told Guinness that she attributed her long life to lots of sleep, a lack of vices, love and positive energy.
Jones had a sign in her kitchen that read “Bacon makes everything better” and reportedly ate four strips of bacon, eggs, and grits every day. She passed away two months shy of her 117thbirthday, and is survived by more than 100 nieces, nephews, and godchildren.