Supercentenarian Recently Passed, Celebrated as Oldest Living Michigander

Ellen Goodwill, of Battlecreek, who turned 114 on February 2 was celebrated in Michigan for her impressive age. Goodwill recently passed in March.

Photo provided by Advantage Living Center




Ellen Goodwill, 114 of Battlecreek, had lived a full life. She recently died after turning 114 years old on February 2.


In 1907, the year she was born, Theodore Roosevelt was the 26th president of the United States. John Wayne, an Academy Award-winning actor was also born. And the Titanic would sink five years later in April 1912.


Also, that year, the first electric washing machine was released in 1907 and Americans had a life expectancy of just 45.6 years for men and 49.9 for women, according to statistics.


Goodwill, who lived at The Manor of Battle Creek, Advantage Living Center in Battle Creek, was a popular person in the state as she was recently the oldest living person in Michigan.


Michelle Barlow, administrative assistant at The Manor of Battle Creek, Advantage Living Centers in Battle Creek said (in an interview before her death) that Goodwill “never smoked or drank alcohol and does not take any medications and vitamins.”


Goodwill was described by Advantage Living Center caregiver Stacy Lewis as a vibrant, beautiful person.


“I met her probably around 11 years ago,” Lewis told the Chronicle. “She could talk a lot then about things. She would tell you about her past and the things she’s been through. I know that she was a model and she was also a hand model.”



Goodwill, who grew up in Columbus, Ohio, was married and she and her husband had no children. Goodwill also has no immediate family.

Lewis said that she and Goodwill would go to fairs over the years, where Goodwill was crowned queen of the fair.


“She (was) very nice — beautiful, even at 114; extremely beautiful,” Lewis said.


According to a published report, the state of Michigan recognized Goodwill with a plaque, sent to her residence. In May of 2020, Goodwill was the oldest known resident in the state following the passing of Irene Dutton of Kalamazoo, who was 113 at the time she passed.

She was also believed to be the third oldest living person in the United States before her death, according to Wikipedia.


Dr. Robert Phillips, senior staff physician at Henry Ford Health System, said that although Michiganders aren’t typically living to be 100 years old or older (especially Black Michiganders who have an even lower life expectancy) there are healthy living habits that could result in a more fuller life.


According to reports, the average life expectancy in Michigan is about 78 years old.

Life expectancy for some parts of Michigan can expand to 86 years old depending on a person’s zip code, too. Grosse Pointe’s average life expectancy is 83 years of age. Detroit’s different zip codes have a different life expectancy and in one city neighborhood it drops to 63 years of age, Dr. Asha Shajahan, a family medicine specialist and medical director of the Community Health Program for Beaumont Hospital, Grosse Pointe told the Michigan Chronicle earlier last month.


Phillips said that economic factors play a huge role in social determinants of health. These determinants can factor into how long a person has to live, and that includes everything from their housing status, transportation, water supply, to their income, education, and neighborhood they live in.


“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know economics plays a big part of that,” he said, adding that neighborhoods are not what they used to be a generation ago where there used to be more of a sense of community. Now with food deserts, lack of mass transit, and other issues that are outside of the control of individuals, Phillips said that simple things like having a primary care physician, exercising, and eating right can do wonders.


“Many of the tips you’ll get from people who have achieved old age much of it is anecdotal,” Phillips said. “But if you interview a lot of people you will see what ties together and one of the things that tie people together is eating right, the ability to remain as physical as possible and try to be proactive with medical conditions.”

He added that one can’t forget about “being blessed.”


“Folks that lived to be in the 90s and 100s — they’re blessed,” he said, adding that “you don’t want to be a number” meaning reaching an old age just because. “You want to enjoy life and get the most out of it and contribute.”


Phillips, 64, said also that people who have family members with health conditions said that just because it runs in the family doesn’t mean it has to be their portion.

“I think that it’s important for individuals to know they can do some things that can make a difference in their health,” he said of being proactive with health by talking to doctors about tips to prevent illness. “It’s never too late to try to address some of the health concerns you have. Never too late to work on things.”




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