A McGregor woman whose life spanned three centuries and was recognized as the oldest living Texan will be laid to rest Friday.
Naomi Conner, 114, died Oct. 18 at Westview Manor Nursing Home. A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at Roberson Chapel AME Church in McGregor.
When Conner was born in August 1899, the same year as Al Capone and Ernest Hemingway, Oklahoma was not yet a state and the Ford Model T was still nine years from being on the market.
State Rep. Charles “Doc” Anderson, R-Waco, gave Conner a plaque naming her the oldest living Texan after her 114th birthday Aug. 30.
Conner’s family and friends chalked up her longevity to her active lifestyle.
Just a few days before she died, she was in church at Roberson Chapel. She participated in activities at the nursing home and could wheel herself around the building, even shortly before she died, they said. “She loved to go to the morning worship services and sitting in with the bingo,” granddaughter Bennie Henderson said. “She loved talking to everyone. Everyone knew her in the home, and she would greet them with a smile.”
Conner couldn’t stand to be idle, even in her old age.
Lisa Harrell, Westview Manor’s billing coordinator, remembered Conner folding laundry at the nursing home. Conner considered it her job and insisted on doing it.
“She would fold all of them the same, perfectly, and she loved doing it,” Harrell said. “I’m talking about a 113-year-old woman folding this huge bag of towels. She would wait for the clothes to come out and wouldn’t take her eye off them because she wanted to get to them.”
Conner was a hard worker when she was younger, too, Henderson said. She worked in the fields, raised her own livestock and made her own medicine. She could cut a hog’s throat and knock a bull out by hitting him between the eyes, she said.
“She was a tough lady,” Henderson said.
Conner instilled her strong work ethic in her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Henderson said one of her favorite sayings was, “If a task is once begun, never leave until it’s done. Be the labor great or small, do it well or not at all.”
Modern conveniences didn’t really interest Conner. She was distrustful of cars, preferring to walk instead, and favored dresses over pants. One of the biggest changes she had a hard time accepting during the years is the way women dress, Henderson said.
“They didn’t dress like that in her days, with hardly any clothes on,” Henderson said. “She stayed on them about how they dressed.”
Conner’s family spans six generations, and some relatives came from as far as New Jersey and Florida to attend her Thursday wake and Friday funeral.
Henderson said when the group gathered two months ago to celebrate Conner’s 114th birthday, they didn’t know it’d be her last.
“She gave us a lot of memories,” Henderson said. “She’ll be greatly missed.”