Louisiana Hines (pictured), the nation’s oldest African American, passed away Friday of natural causes at age 113 according to public records, but her family argues that she was in fact 114, according to the Detroit Free Press.
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Although Hines’ family has a birth certificate stating she was born on April 13, 1898, which would have made her 114, Robert Young, a senior database administrator for California’s Gerontology Research Group contends she was in fact a year younger. Young, who is also a consultant for the famed Guinness World Records organization, argues that census records from 1900 state that Hines was in fact born in April 1899, which would have made her 113.
Therefore, the researcher concludes that the birth certificate that Hines’ family has in their possession was issued in the 1940s, which means it was delayed and given to her when Hines was already an adult.
Whether Hines was 113 or 114, she was the sixth oldest living person in the world and the oldest living African American.
Hines was born in Luverne, Ala., and was one of seven children with both of her parents being born into slavery. In 1918, she married Arthur Hines and had a daughter and two sons. She and her family relocated to Florida from Alabama, where she helped to run a restaurant.
In 1940, the family then eventually moved to the Motor City, Det., where Arthur landed a job at a Packard Motor Car plant. When the second World War hit, Hines found herself working as a riveter at an airplane factory.
Taking classes at a beauty school resulted in Hines obtaining a license as a hairdresser. In 1948, Hines wound up opening a beauty salon, L. Hines Beauty Shop, in Detroit. Even though Hines’ shop closed a while ago, she was still a licensed beautician at the time of her death, according to her granddaughter.
Even well after Hines turned 100, she still maintained memberships in numerous civic and social community service groups, including Amvets Auxiliary, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Order of the Eastern Star Prince Hall Affiliation, and the Red Hat Society.
Up until 2009, Hines insisted on her independence, but as fate would have it, she broke her hip and needed to rely on physical therapists and home care attendants in her later years.
What was the secret that might have contributed to her longevity? According to Hines’ granddaughter Darlene House, her grandmother told her that she did not do anything out of the ordinary that would have contributed to her living so long:
“She said she did not have a secret. She believed she was living in God’s hands, in God’s time,” House told the Detroit Free Press.
House does believe, however, that her grandmother’s longevity could have stemmed from her having such a positive outlook on life and an unyielding belief in a higher power.
“She always tried to be an obedient child to her mother and to God.”
Hines leaves behind a daughter, 12 grandchildren, many great-grandchildren, and other extended family.