NEW YORK - Harlem's favorite supercentenarian, Mrs. Alelia Murphy, turned 114 years old July 6, becoming the oldest living person in the country.
"This is Harlem history. This is family history. We are standing here with a Harlem landmark, a Harlem icon - Mrs. Alelia Murphy," said State Sen. Brian Benjamin. Her age has been validated by the Gerontology Research Group.
Among those paying tribute to Murphy were elected officials, including Sen. Benjamin, who represents Upper Manhattan. The party was thrown by the African American Caucus of 1199SEIU. Mrs. Murphy's daughter, Rose Green, is a retired 1199 member.
"I'm so proud of her and so glad to have her as long as I have," Green said. She calls and or sees her mother daily and refers to her as her best friend.
Mrs. Murphy was born into a family of 12 children in North Carolina. She moved to Harlem because she wanted to be a part of the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s. She lost her husband early - a widow since 1953 - and raised her daughter and a son who pre-deceased her. Murphy became a respected resident of Harlem, getting involved in her church and other community organizations.
"My grandmother, her strength I don't know where she gets it from but she has been through so many things, she is the glue that holds this family together," one of her granddaughters, Nefer Nekhet, said. "We ask her, 'Grandma, you been here for a very long time' and she said, 'I'm here because you all don't know how to live. I'm here to teach you all how to live and things to do.'"
Nekhet said the spirited 114-year-old has no ailments and is aware she is the oldest living American.
"She's excited, she said she must be blessed because the Lord kept her here for so long," she said.
When asked what is her secret to living a long life, Mrs. Murphy has said simply "Trust in God and be a good person."