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114-Year-Old Emma Otis Knew a Thing or Two about the Secrets of Life


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SEATTLE TIMES | it sounds a little cheesy to say I loved a 114-year-old woman whom I met only twice, but it’s true.

I work for the Girl Scouts. The supercentenarian whose smile is draped across my heart like a well-worn sash was our country’s oldest living Girl Scout. Emma Otis, who also held the title of the oldest Washingtonian, died in her sleep Oct. 25 just three days after she officially became the second oldest person in the country and 10th oldest person in the world. When they found her, she was holding a Girl Scout doll.

If you sleep with a Girl Scout doll you’ve had for more than nine decades, you probably managed to soak up a lot of Girl Scout honor. In fact, you likely invented the term. Emma saw our organization in its infancy, and dedicated her life to introducing girls to powerful leadership and confidence-building opportunities that weren’t widely available at the time. She also helped found in Belfair 80 years ago one of our most beloved camps.

Truly, it was impossible not to instantly love this woman. I first met her in 2012, when she was a spry 110-year-old in pink pants. Her hair was sprinkled in baby’s breath and her voice was both tiny and big, excited and frustrated, pouring out of her throat in cracked prepubescent crescendos and timid whispers. She was like a sweet, wrinkled child, peering up at me through glasses nearly as big as her face. “Everything about Girl Scouts makes me so happy!” she said, clapping. “Everything!” ... Read the full story!