JACKSONVILLE — Eunice Sanborn, the world’s oldest living person, passed away at 6 a.m. Monday.
David French, Sanborn’s “adopted” son and caretaker, said her death was a peaceful one. “The Lord just called her home,” he said. “He had been using her as a powerful witness for 115 years.
French first met Sanborn when he was 5. He developed a close relationship with her and was in charge of her affairs later in life. Sanborn has been a Jacksonville icon for years, thanks to her involvement in the community and her ownership of Love’s Lookout. She rose to nationwide fame in April 2010, however, when she was declared the oldest living person in the U.S.
Not long after, in November 2010, she was declared the world’s oldest living person upon the death of Eugenie Blanchard, a nun from the French West Indies.When told of her “achievement”, Sanborn’s reaction was simple: “Oh, think of that.” Sanborn turned 115 in July 2010 and lived at home with 24-hour care until her death. According to the family, Sanborn was born on July 20, 1895, in Lake Charles, La.
She and her only child, Dorothy, moved to Jacksonville after her first husband, Joseph Orchin, died. Several years later she married Wesley Garrett. The pair later bought what is now known as Love’s Lookout and developed a recreation center that included the county’s only cement-lined Olympic sized swimming pool complete with underwater lighting.
Eventually, after Garrett’s death, Sanborn married Grant Sanborn, who passed away abut 20 years after their marriage. Sanborn’s long time friend Christine Bunn said in a previous interview Sanborn has always loved traveling. “You could just say ‘go’ and she was there,” Bunn said. “She’s a wonderful person.”
Bunn said she and Sanborn met at First Baptist Church in Jacksonville during the earlier years of their more than 50-year friendship. “I used to tell her that her nickname should have been ‘Go,’” Bunn said, “because she was always ready to go somewhere.” Bunn and Sanborn spent lots of time together, including as roommates at one point.
“For awhile, we lived together in a rock house on Bolton Street,” Bunn said. “She still had her house, but she just thought she wanted a change.”
Although she never worked outside the home, Sanborn stayed busy with community activities her entire life. She was an active member of First Baptist Church of Jacksonville. She sang in the choir there for many years and volunteered at the former Newburn Hospital. Sanborn survived a bout of scarlet fever when she was a child but lost two sisters to the illness. She outlived three husbands and her only child, Dorothy, and her life has spanned three centuries.
Sanborn credited her long life and good health to her belief in Christ and her salvation. When she was asked if there was anything else important in her life shortly after being named the oldest person in the U.S., anything that would define her life and leave a legacy for others to follow, Sanborn’s reply was quick: “Honey, if you have the Lord Jesus, you don’t need anything else.”