Florence Poe, Oldest Missourian, Dies at 112

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Florence Poe, until Sunday the oldest living Missourian, in 2006, on her 109th birthday.
Florence Poe, who was the oldest person in Missouri and the seventh-oldest person in the United States, died Sunday, March 21, in Cape Girardeau after suffering a stroke a week earlier. She was 112.

"She was a pretty remarkable gal right up to the end," her granddaughter Cecile Busch told the Southeast Missourian. "She was clear in her mind and wonderful to talk to."

Poe was born on August 24, 1897, in Farmington, Missouri, about 75 miles south of St. Louis, but grew up in Canalou, in the bootheel. Her parents, William and Malinda Robinson, had arrived in Missouri in a covered wagon. Poe was the youngest of their nine children.

In 1917, Florence married Lester Poe. Together they ran a neighborhood grocery store in Charleson, Missouri, a small town on the Kentucky border.

Until she reached her 90s, Poe lived on her own. When she started to go blind, she moved to Cape Girardeau, first with one of her daughters and then to the Ratliff Care Center. Her family said that, aside from blindness, she was in good health. She went for regular walks and was still able to feed herself. Recently she had started to use hearing aids, but kept taking them out.

Her mind, however, remained clear. "She remembered every time," said Busch. "It was embarrassing that her memory was better than ours.

Poe's longevity was partially due to good genes -- her mother lived to be 104 -- but she told Michael Ratliff, administrator of the Ratliff Care Center, the other part of her secret: "Well, honey, you just got to keep breathing."

She's survived by three daughters, nine grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren, several great-great-grandchildren and a great-great-great-grandchild.


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