Emma Verona Calhoun Johnston, the oldest person in America and the second oldest in the world, died on Dec. 1. She was 114.
Born on Aug. 6, 1890, in Indianola, Iowa, Johnston was the eighth of nine children born to Civil War veteran Joseph Calhoun and Emma Speer Calhoun. She graduated from Drake University in 1912, then taught Latin in several Iowa high schools. Once women earned the right to vote in 1920, Johnston participated in the political process. She voted in every election since then, and even cast an absentee ballot in November.
Verona was married to Harry Johnston, an ophthalmologist, until his death in 1971. In recent years, she traveled across Europe and read many books. The supercentenarian remained healthy and alert until a few months ago. She never used the deductible on her health insurance policy and reportedly had the thinnest file on record at her doctor’s office.
Johnston moved to Ohio when she was 98 to live with her daughter Julie Johnson, 81, and Julie’s husband Bruce, 83. She is survived by her four children, 13 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren. An exhibit honoring her long life will be displayed in the lobby of the Cowles Library on the Drake University campus.