No one knows for sure if Fannie Holt is the oldest person in Alamance County. But at 107, she’s a strong contender. Holt, who lives at Springview Assisted Living in Burlington, celebrated her most recent birthday Thursday. An early afternoon party included flowers, balloons, cake and ice cream, and a rousing version of “Happy Birthday.” Holt’s daughter, Ophelia Evans, said Holt lived in Mebane most of her life before moving to Springview in 1996. She was born and grew up in Caswell County and moved to Mebane after getting married. “She had a green thumb and she loved flowers,” Evans said while describing her mother’s interests. “Her thing was gladiolas.” Sometimes her flowers would be displayed in Mebane United Methodist Church, where she is still a member.
Janice Worth, resident care coordinator of Springview’s Burlington facility, said Holt is loved by the staff and other residents there. Evans said the staff has done a great job looking after her mother and has told her she is easy to care for. Holt had four children and a foster son, and Evans is one of three who are still living. Holt’s son, C.J. Holt, lives in Tennessee and her foster son, Kenneth Freshwater, lives in Siler City. Evans said her mother was a homemaker whose life was centered on family, friends and her faith. She tried hard to be a good neighbor, loved reading the Bible and lived for her children and grandchildren. “She’s just a lovely person,” Evans said. “She loves everybody.”
An informal survey of local government and service agencies turned up no one aware of anyone older in the county, though it also did not confirm for certain Holt is the oldest. Brenda Porter is program director of Alamance ElderCare, which helps senior citizens get services they need. She said the oldest people the agency has helped in the last few years have been around 103 or 104. “A hundred and seven might be hard to beat,” she said. In September, an Associated Press story said Gertrude Baines of Los Angeles had been the oldest person in the world at 115 when she died that month. That meant Kama Chinen, a 114-year-old woman in Japan, became the oldest person alive. The Associated Press said an organization called the Gerontology Research Group looks into “claims of extreme age.” The group says the oldest person it has been aware of was Jeanne-Louise Calment, who died in France in 1997 at the age of 122.