An Iowan, who became the oldest American earlier this year, died Tuesday morning. Neva Morris of Ames was 114 years old. Radio Iowa spoke with Morris’ son-in-law in early March when Morris took over the distinction as the oldest living American. Tom Wickersham said he wasn’t sure if Morris had a secret for living such a long life.
“Well, I guess no one really knows except she must have good genes for one thing,” Wickersham said. “She’s just been a well rounded person who’s had a good purpose for living.” Morris lived at Northcrest Community in Ames since 1999. Wickersham, who is 90, also lives at Northcrest. He said Morris had hearing and eyesight problems, but was aware of the fact she was the oldest living American.
“When one of the caregivers told her that, she made some kind of a remark, ‘oh my’ or something to that effect,” Wickersham said. Neva Morris outlived three of her four children. Her last living child, Walter Morris, lives in Sioux City. Wickersham said Neva loved to sing and had a passion for cars when she lived on her own. He remembered helping Neva purchase her last car, a 1985 Mercury Grand Marquis.
“She just loved that car and was really quite a fast driver,” Wickersham said. “Probably through age 90, she was still going to Des Moines in that car…quite remarkable, she never did have an accident.” The Iowa Department of Aging reports the oldest Iowan now is 113-year-old Dina Manfredini of Johnston.