Lera Williams, one of the oldest people in Kentucky and among the oldest living Americans, died Friday in Campbellsville at age 111.
Mrs. Williams lived in her own home until September, when, because of failing health, she moved into the Grandview Nursing Home in Campbellsville.
Mrs. Williams was born in Cumberland County on Feb. 9, 1900, long before electricity or indoor plumbing became commonplace. Growing up, she rode horseback sidesaddle to get where she needed to go.
"Her dad didn't think girls needed to go to school because they were just going to be housewives and mothers, but her mother insisted," said daughter Clara Newton, who is 75. Williams took a skiff across the Cumberland River to get to school each day.
That led to a lifelong love of books and reading. "She had lots and lots of books, many by Billy Graham," Newton said. "And she read the Bible faithfully." Newton said her mother also loved to crochet.
Mrs. Williams and her husband, Murrison, a farmer, had eight children, five of whom survive: Eloise Elmore — the oldest at age 92 — Anna Williams, Jerry Williams and Newton, all of Campbellsville; and Cena Hottle of Louisville.
Clara Newton says her mother was a small woman. "The most she ever weighed was 125 pounds, when she was pregnant," Newton said.
After Mrs. Williams' husband died 50 years ago, she began traveling, taking bus tours. She visited all 48 continental states.
In an interview this year, Mrs. Williams said she had lived a great life. "I don't know why I got old. I act like a kid," she said, adding that she marveled at "how time goes by so fast."
Among the secrets to her longevity was getting to bed early and arising early, and healthy eating, Mrs. Williams said. Her diet was heavy on fruits, vegetables and eggs.
Visitation will begin at 5 p.m. Monday at Parrott & Ramsey Funeral Home in Campbellsville. Services will be 9:30 a.m. Tuesday at the funeral home with burial at Brookside Cemetery.