|Birth:||3 September 1898|
|Death:||31 December 2010|
Ocala, Florida, U.S.
|Age:||112 years, 119 days|
Onezima Cecelia "Onie" Ponder (née Chazal; September 3, 1898 – December 31, 2010) was an American supercentenarian. She lived to 112 years, 119 days. She is also the oldest person ever to have been born in the state of Florida.
Onezima Cecelia Chazal was born in Ocala, Florida, on September 3, 1898, to Isabel Juliana "Nita" (Hickman) Chazal (1867-1962) and Louis Richard Amedee Chazal (1866-1972) at home on the corner of Ft. King and Herbert Streets. At the age of two, she moved into a house diagonally across the street from the house she was born in.
She remembered that that new house had nine rooms and indoor plumbing, which was a significant deal back then as many people still used outhouses. As a child, Ponder and her seven siblings were rarely bored. Ponder said, "we used to have a lot of fun just among ourselves; we didn't need a bunch of folks coming over to entertain us."
According to Ponder, she had a wonderful family life as a child. Growing up, she remembered seeing Halley's Comet and was 13 when the Titanic sank. She was sent to boarding school in Columbia, South Carolina, when she was 14. After graduating from St. Genevieve High School|St. Genevieve's boarding school in Asheville, North Carolina in 1916, Ponder went to the University of Florida to study accounting, graduating in 1922.
Onie Ponder worked all of her life, and spent much of it as a bookkeeper. During World War One, Ponder did her part by selling war bonds throughout the war. Although Ponder enjoyed working all of her life, she says that the best time she spent was with her kids. In 1920, when Ponder was 21, women were given the right to vote for the first time. Ponder voted in every election since, except for once when she was giving birth to her son Carswell. In the 2008 election, she voted for Barack Obama.
Onie Ponder lost her sight to macular degeneration in her early 80s. At 106, Ponder was hit by a car, and then recovered. Ponder lived in Ocala, Florida, the city in which she was born, until her death in 2010.
At the age of 110, the only medication Ponder took was two pills once per day. Although blind, Ponder was still in relatively good health. In an interview with Ponder, she said, "I just love living every day and doing the best I can.” Onie Ponder embraced living day by day, and in an interview for Growing Bolder television in 2008, she said, "I don't dream, I believe in reality. I live one day at a time because, believe me, one day is enough."
She enjoyed listening to historical audio books from the blind center. She listened to more than 200. Ponder credited her longevity to her active youth, “I walked everywhere. I had to; we didn’t have any cars.”