POULSBO — Poulsbo’s Emma Otis continues to make her mark on history.
She helped establish Camp St. Albans in Belfair, lobbied successfully to establish the goldfinch as the Washington State Bird, is the oldest living member of the Girl Scouts of America, and is the oldest Washingtonian.
Now, one month from her 112th birthday, she’s the 12th-oldest American and the 33rd-oldest person in the world.
Otis, a resident of Liberty Shores, was born Oct. 22, 1901. The list of oldest persons in the world, verified and maintained by the Gerontology Research Group, is topped by Japan’s Misao Okawa, born March 5, 1898. The oldest American is Michigan’s Jeralean Talley, born May 23, 1899.
According to the Gerontology Research Group, seven people born in the 19th century — one Japanese, four Americans, one Italian and one Englishwoman — are alive today.
Asked on her 110th birthday for the secret to her health and longevity, she responded with a laugh, "Because I'm a Swede." Her active life and healthy diet certainly played a part. As a child, she rowed regularly between Gig Harbor and Point Defiance. Later, she climbed Mount Rainier, Mount St. Helens and Mount Constance; led Girl Scout excursions; and mowed her own lawn until she was 100. She participated in an exercise group at Liberty Shores.
Genes have played a part as well; her mother and an aunt lived to almost 90.