Kathleen Snavely Is Officially
Ireland’s Oldest Living Person
By Julia Brodsky, Editorial Assistant
March 27, 2015
As of midnight on March 25th, 2015, Kathleen Hayes Rollins Snavely is the oldest ever Irish-born person in the world, having reached the age of 113 years and 38 days (and counting!). This record was previously held by Anne Scott of County Tyrone, who passed away in 1996 at the age of 113 years and 37 days.
Born Kathleen Hayes on February 16th, 1902 in Feakle, County Clare, she immigrated in 1921 to Syracuse, New York, where she still lives today. No one is sure how much money she had to her name when she reached Ellis Island- as she quipped to Sean Kirst of the Syracuse Post-Standard, “Every time you write about it, it gets less and less.”
She met and married Roxie Rollins in the early 1920s, and in 1933, while the Depression was heading into full swing, the two founded and maintained the very successful Seneca Dairy. She credits the business’s survival to a very touching truth.
“We were very much in love,” she has said. “It was the secret of our success.”
In 2000, she donated $1 million to Syracuse University’s School of Management in honor of her beloved husband.
After Rollins passed away in 1968, Kathleen married Jesse Clark Snavely, Jr. of Lancaster,Pennsylvania in 1970. Some time after being widowed again, she returned to her adopted hometown of Syracuse, where she now resides in the Centers at St. Camillus nursing home. Her closest kin in the United States are her step-children from her second marriage.
Despite her recent fame, she prefers to keep her life quiet and often responds to questions about her age with wit and a bit of sass. She told Kirst, “Someone came up to me in the cafeteria and said, ‘How old are you anyway?’ I said, ‘I’m old enough to have some manners.’”
Unlike other newsmaking centenarians, Snavely is disinterested in discussing the secrets to her longevity, claiming, in fact, that she has none. At the recent celebration for her 113th birthday, she simply said, “You live and you do it the best you can.”
After her 113-plus years of life, we should probably follow her advice (and maybe put away the Dr. Pepper and raw eggs, and hell, get married, too). Don’t worry, though, we don’t have to eschew all our vices – Snavely rounded out her birthday party with cake and her once-a-year Manhattan. ♦