And Then There is Maud
[Now Age 114 Years]
Brad Flory, Reporter
The Jackson Citizen Patriot.
Tuesday, June 12, 2001; Coldwater, MI -- Pictures taken when Maud was 100...
You may never find another family portrait like the one above that Donald Ferris has tucked away in a photo album at his Jackson home. [ Editor's Note: These photos came to us by means of a FAX machine, so resolution is not really very good. Also, there is a curious family split on the spelling the Farris/Ferris last name.] Mrs. Maud Farris-Luse is pictured at age 100 in a rare five-generation family photograph with each generation separated by exactly 25 years. In the picture above, she [in the middle at the bottom] is with her are son Clair at age 75 [4th from left], his son Donald at age 50 [right most], his daughter Cindy Coliver at age 25 [left most], and her infant daughter Mallory [baby in arms], born on Maud's 100th birthday! The picture on the right is another picture of Mrs. Luse taken on her 100th Birthday.
Today, Mallory is 14, which makes Maud the oldest person on Earth. Last week, a French woman believed to be the world's oldest person died at age 115. At 114 years, four months, and 22 days, Maud is the top contender to take over that distinction. ( The Guinness Book of World Records is looking into it). Maud lives in a nursing home in Coldwater and is not up to news interviews. But I've heard stories from her Jackson relatives.
Born in Morley, Mecosta County, Michigan on January 21, 1887, Maud was old enough to remember moving to Indiana in a horse-drawn wagon in the early 1890's. In 1903, Maud married Jason Farris, a farmer in Angola, IN. They moved to Coldwater before 1930. Jason and Maud had seven children. She has outlived all but one. After Jason died in 1951, she married Walter Luse. He died three years later. Through the years, Maud worked as a hotel maid and restaurant cook. She has about ~50 grandchildren. From there, the descendants are too numerous to count. In later years, Maud became known for her big garden, for making pot holders by the dozen, and for her extreme generosity.
When police caught some kids who broke into her house and stole money, Maud refused to press charges. "She said 'they probably needed it more than she did,'" said Donald Ferris, a 64-year-old salesman. Maud never smoked or drank, but she has one vice: Fishing. She would drop anything to fish. Great-grand-daughter Cindy Coliver of Jackson remembers being taken aback to see Maud scaling bluegills in her living room. Home remedies were another eccentricity. Maud often was yellow from mustard rubs. Don't laugh. The woman never spent a day in a hospital until age 95. Mustard and bluegills cannot be all bad.
It's amazing to ponder all that has happened in Maud's lifetime. The first World Series was played when she was a married woman of 16. Women got the right to vote when she was 33. Thomas Edison invented the movie camera when she was four. Twenty-two presidents have served during Maud's life. More than half the presidents since the nation was founded. It seems like there has never been a time when Grandma wasn't 100," said great-grandson Donald Ferris, Jr., 34, of Spring Arbor.
Helen Ferris, wife of Donald Ferris, Sr., remembers one regret Maud expressed about living so long. "Nobody calls her 'Maud' any more," Helen said. "Everyone calls her Mrs. Ferris or Grandma. She outlived everyone who called her Maud. So she lost that. It was a melancholy thought, if you dwell on it. So I hope no one is offended that I have taken the liberty of referring to potentially the-world's-oldest-person by her first name. Well done, Maud.