|Birth:||18 May 1895|
|Death:||10 July 2007|
|Age:||112 years, 53 days|
Emma Vironia Carroll (née Lanman; 18 May 1895 – 10 July, 2007) was the oldest person in the US state of Iowa from the death of 111-year-old Hazel Blecha on 29 October 2006, to her own death on 19 July 2007. She was the 10th oldest validated American living in the United States, and the 22nd oldest validated worldwide at the time of her death. Also, she was the Guinness recordholder for the oldest person to ride in a hot air balloon at 109 years and 70 days old in 2004.
Carroll was born in Iowa in 1895 in Davis County to Elias Sylvester and Margaret Lynch Lanman. She had four sisters, Effie Deborn, Cordie McClure, Lillie Fite and Helen Gideon; and a brother, Marvin Lanman.
On New Year's Day 1914, she married her longtime husband Clair C. Carroll (October 8, 1893 - March 7, 1994) of 80 years. The two first met where Clair's older sister was teaching. The couple had resided in Davis County, Iowa during the 1910s. Emma's first ballot was for Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1920. They had lived on a farm in Van Buren County, Iowa during the 1930s. The Carroll's moved to Ottumwa, Iowa in the 1940s during World War II and settled there. While in Ottumwa in the 40s, Clair became an employee for the Deere & Company, and Emma became a nurse for about a dozen years, and had taught Sunday school. In 2000, she moved into Vista Woods Care Center in Ottumwa, Iowa after living independently until she was 105 years old. In 1951 Emma and Clair's youngest son died in a car crash 6 days before his 20th birthday. Emma would lose 2 out of 4 sons in her life. She was 103 when her 3rd son Charles died. Two were living at her death Lowell and Noble, who were 93 and 88.
Age hadn’t stopped Emma from doing lots of things like taking a hot air balloon ride and sitting in a motorcycle car — all after the age of 100. In October 1993 Emma and her late husband, Charles “Pop” Carroll, when he was celebrating his 100th birthday and he and Emma were preparing to celebrate their 80th wedding anniversary a few months later. She was 98 years old then and still cleaning her own kitchen curtains at their home in Ottumwa’s west end. She said then, “I have to keep things going.” Emma was 2 months short of her 99th birthday when she was widowed. In 2004, Emma became the Guinness world recordholder for the oldest person ever to fly in a hot air balloon. When she was asked how it worked out, she said, "It was just something I had always wanted to do. Julie [Meldren] lined it up, and a man and his wife took me (with pilot Brian Bennett). We went gliding along and I didn’t even know we were so high up. Beats anything I was ever in. I’d do it again if I could!"
Twice a week, she folded towels for Vista Woods Care Center, where she had been a resident since she was 105. "I like to work and work with my hands. It keeps [them] so I can use them, keeps them limber," she said, flexing her fingers. Carroll also exercised her mind. "I study the Bible. I like that kind of thing," she said about her weekly study group. And because her sight was going but her love of Bingo wasn't, she had to memorize her Bingo card. She enjoyed gardening and helped plant flowers and water them at Vista Woods Care Center up to the age of 110.
According to a member of the family, her eldest son Lowell and his wife Evalyn moved into a nursing home when they were 92 and 89 and it worried his mother a lot that the two of them had begun to suffer from the effects of old age. Lowell struggled with emphysema and his wife had Parksinsons disease and poor eyesight. Lowell and Evalyn Carroll finally died at age 95 and 93, while his 3 brothers Noble died aged 92, Charles was 74 and Max was just 19.
Carroll enjoyed going on group trips away from the nursing home. One time she had lunch with the Salvation Army. "I like that, they're friendly," Carroll said.
No matter how old the kids are, a mother still worries about her children, he had emphysema and had an attack recently that worried me, she said. Her son was 93 at the time of his mother's death, she was 19 when she gave birth to him, and he lived in a Bloomfield nursing home. The interviewer asked is he still your little boy? “Oh, yes,” she said.
She helped the Care Center by folding laundry twice a week. During an interview in early 2007 with the Ottumwa Courier she had stated that "I like to work and work with my hands. It keeps [them] so I can use them, keeps them limber," she said while flexing her fingers, "I think work doesn't hurt anybody." Emma studied the Bible with her weekly study group. She said that she took naps often while sitting in her favorite chair.
Carroll died in her nursing home in 2007 at Vista Woods Care Center in Ottumwa. She was survived by her two out of four sons Noble and Lowell and was predeceased by two other sons, Emma had many nephews and nieces as well as 7 grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren, 31 great-great-grandchildren and three great-great-great-grandchildren; at the time of her death.