Jeralean Talley of Inkster, Mich., was born May 23, 1899.
DETROIT -- The Detroit-area woman who received the title of oldest living American about two months ago plans to celebrate her 114 birthday Thursday by eating out with friends from church.
Jeralean Talley of Inkster, Mich., is the oldest living American -- and third-oldest person in the world, according to the Gerontology Research Group, which keeps a list of the world's oldest people.
"She's just glad to be here to see another birthday," her daughter, Thelma Holloway, told the Detroit Free Press on Thursday morning.
Talley, who was born May 23, 1899, was asked why she thinks she has lived so long during an interview with the Detroit Free Press last month. She lifted her arm and pointed to the sky.
"Don't ask me," she said. "Ask him."
What happens next is in God's hands, she said.
Talley will be honored at New Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church in Inkster on Sunday and plans to celebrate with birthday cake after the service.
Talley became the oldest person living in the United States when Elsie Thompson of Florida died March 21, according to officials with the Gerontology Research Group, who verified her age.
"In this particular case, the 1900 census was the defining factor for identification," said Robert Young of the research group. "We checked the parents and siblings to make sure it's the correct person listed in the records."
The two oldest people in the world — a man and woman — live in Japan, according to the group's records.
Talley, who has outlived the national average of about 79 years by more than three decades, bowled until she was 104, still goes fishing, drinks black coffee with a little sugar every morning and lives by the motto: Treat others the way you want to be treated.
Only about one in 5 million people living in the U.S. become a supercentenarian -- a person who is 110 or older, experts say.
The reason people live that long appears to have less to do with health-related behavior like exercise and smoking and more to do with genetics, said Dr. Tom Perls, professor of medicine at Boston University and director of the New England Centenarian Study.
Perls said evidence shows it is not a few rare genes but rather of combination of many.
"Getting that right combination is what makes it rare," he said. "It's like winning the lottery."
Talley was born in Montrose, Ga., and moved to Michigan in 1935. Several of Talley's 11 siblings lived well into their 90s, said Holloway, Talley's only child.
Jeralean Talley's husband, Alfred Talley, died in 1988.
Michael Kinloch of Canton, Mich., Talley's friend of about 20 years, said he saw her about a week ago when he stopped by her home, where she lives with her daughter.
"She's been doing great," he said.