Year-in-review: Suffolk’s oldest known resident dies at 108

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 31, 2004

Suffolk lost more than a century of wisdom and inspiration on July 26 with the death of 108-year-old Eley Otelia Smith Pearson Demiel.

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

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.

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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.

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;