Jeralean Talley (May 23, 1899-June 17, 2015) was an American supercentenarian. She was the oldest living person on the world from April 6, 2015, when Gertrude Weaver died, to her own death on June 17, 2015, at the age of 116 years, 25 days. She was succeeded by Susannah Jones.
Jeralean Kurtz was born in Montrose, Georgia on May 23, 1899. One of 11 siblings, she spent her early years living on a farm picking cotton and peanuts and digging sweet potatoes out of the ground. She moved to Inkster, Michigan, in 1935, and has lived there since. A year later, she married Alfred Talley (1893–1988) and had one child, a daughter, Thelma Holloway, born in 1937. Jeralean and Alfred were wed for 52 years before he died on October 17, 1988, at the age of 95.
She never drove a car, saying that she tried it once but pushed the wrong pedal, causing it to go in reverse rather than move forward. She never wanted to try again.
According to her daughter Thelma, Jeralean stayed active in her later life by sewing dresses, making quilts and playing the slot machines at casinos. She bowled until she was 104, when her legs got too weak, but still goes on annual fishing trips with her friend Michael Kinloch and his son Tyler (who is also her Godson). In May 2013, at age 114, she caught 7 catfish. She has three grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren, and 4 great-great-grandchildren.
When she isn’t fishing, Talley enjoys watching The Ellen DeGeneres Show and Wheel of Fortune on the television as well as listening to baseball on the radio. Her favorite foods include potato salad, honey buns, McDonald’s chicken nuggets and Wendy’s chili. She says that she drinks coffee, not wine.
A devout Christian, she is a member of the New Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church, whose members lovingly refer to her as “Mother Talley”. In May 2013, they celebrated her 114th birthday with a service and a meal, as well as officially naming the church's driveway after her. Talley also received a personalised letter from President Barack Obama, who wrote that she was “part of an extraordinary generation”.
She lives by the motto: “Treat others the way you want to be treated”. Known in the community for her wisdom and wit, she has sometimes been asked for advice. She has previously advised people to use common sense, saying “I don’t have much education but what little sense I got, I try to use it”.