Oldest African American Dies at 113 in Detroit

Daisy Bailey credited Bourbon and veggies are her secret to longevity.


Daisy Bailey, who was believed to be the oldest person of African descent in the world, passed away Sunday, a few weeks shy of her 114th birthday.

Born in Watertown, Tenn., Ms. Bailey worked on a plantation, keeping house and chopping wood, but in 1943, she decided to move to metro Detroit , ultimately settling in Pontiac. She earned money by doing housework and baby-sitting.

According to the Gerontology Research Group, she was the world's fourth-oldest person and second-oldest American, though her family believes, despite not having documentation, that she was actually a year older.

Ms. Bailey, who later developed Alzheimer's, enjoyed flower and vegetable gardening, listening to the blues, dancing and cooking. Among her favorite recipes were chicken and dressing, turnip greens and egg pies.

Her secret to longevity?

"Eat plenty of vegetables and take a little nip," her granddaughter Helen Arnold, who lived with her on Detroit's west side since 1989, said Monday.

Ms. Bailey's drink of choice was old bourbon.

Her relatives called her Mamie, because "she said she couldn't get no boyfriend if we called her Grandma," Arnold explained.

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