Gerontology Wiki
Brunette Nelms
Brunette Nelms
Nelms at the age of 108.
Birth: 9 March 1910
Ashland, Mississippi, USA
Death: 4 May 2021
Memphis, Tennessee, USA
Age: 111 years, 56 days
Country: United StatesUSA

Brunette Nelms (née Willie Faye Crawford; 9 March 1910 – 4 May 2021) was an American supercentenarian who was the oldest known person living in the U.S. state of Tennessee at the time of her death. Her age is currently unvalidated by the Gerontology Research Group (GRG).


Early Life and Family

Nelms was born Willie Faye Crawford in Ashland, Benton County, Mississippi, United States, on 9 March 1910. Her parents were John William Crawford (1868–1937) and Mary Louella Casey-Crawford (1879–1966). She had a twin sister, Blondie Crawford, who died on 30 September 2001, at the age of 91. Besides her twin sister, she had 4 more siblings: Otis Gray (1899–1985), Ruth M. (1902–1983), John W. (1906–1983) and G. Casey (1912–1985), and one half-sister from the father's side, Opal L Jennings (1900–1970). She grew up in Ashland. Nelms graduated from the University of Alabama in 1937. At the some point, Nelms and her twin sister were told by an employer if they were going to continue to go by the names of Brunette and Blondie, they were going to have to change their names legally, and later, they legally changed their names to "Brunette" and "Blondie". She married Walter C. Nelms (1909–1999) and had two daughters: Mary Lou Lake of Columbus, and Nancy Gates of Memphis. She was married to her husband for 62 years before he died on 7 March 1999.

Later Life

At the age of 106, she had 5 grandchildren and 1 great-grandchild. At that time, she was still able to play piano, and to participate in Tai Chi, yoga and weight training, as well as to attend church at Cherry Road Baptist Church. At that time, she said she struggled with her eyesight because of Macular Degeneration most of her life, but that couldn't stop her from playing piano. She memorized piano music and used that to teach her students in school: I couldn't see well enough to see the music, so I memorized them.

Nelms died in Memphis, Tennessee, United States on 4 May 2021 at the age of 111 years, 56 days.