Eley Demiel dies at 108

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

Suffolk lost more than a century of wisdom and inspiration this week with the death of 108-year-old Eley Otelia Smith Pearson Demiel.

Demiel, the city’s oldest known resident, died early Monday morning. Her life had been the subject a public television documentary and numerous newspaper articles over the past several years.

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WHRO aired an eight-part series, &uot;Century,&uot; about the woman &uot;who’s seen everything that’s been in the world in the last 100 years,&uot; as several accounts referenced her. Demiel has also been the subject of several articles and columns by Suffolk News-Herald contributing writer Evelyn Wall.

Dorothy Demiel, the wife of the deceased Demiel’s grandson, Willie B., called the centenarian &uot;an inspiration. She was a great grandmother, neighbor and friend.&uot;

Demiel attended church with the family every Sunday until about four weeks ago, &uot;when she started to lose her strength,&uot; Dorothy recalled.

Most people also knew Demiel was an &uot;oral historian. She was well acquainted with the Bible, and lived her life accordingly.

&uot;She knew about anything from the Bible and she lived the life,&uot; said Dorothy.

In a Nov. 9, 2000 column written by Wall, family members reported that Demiel – then 105 – had a good heart, kidneys, cholesterol, and blood pressure. At that time, Demiel was also thankful that she didn’t suffer from any signs of arthritis, an affliction often associated with old age.

Demiel also expressed in an interview that she sometimes grew &uot;lonely because I don’t have any old folks to talk to anymore,&uot; the article reads.

&uot;All my friends have passed on,&uot; she added, &uot;but I still thank the Lord that he has allowed me to be born in the 19th century and live through the 20th century.&uot;

Demiel was born on October 30, 1895, in Nansemond County, now known as the city of Suffolk. But she considered Aug. 9, 1910 – the day she became a Christian – to be her &uot;spiritual birthday.&uot;