Constituent Spotlight: Polly Anna Ellison-White
Sep 24, 2013
Kankakee resident celebrates 111 positive years
Polly Anna Ellison-White was born in 1902, when Theodore Roosevelt was president and women did not have the right to vote. When she turned 18, women were finally allowed into the voting booth. But the fight for voting rights and civil rights continued into the 1960s. Ellison-White was 61 years old when she participated in the March on Washington on August 28, 1963.
“I’m proud that I participated in the March on Washington through my work with the Red Cross,” she said.
This August, Ellison-White celebrated her 111th birthday and considers her involvement in the historic civil rights demonstration as a central event in her life, according Midge Daucanski, her senior companion through Catholic Charities.
“Throughout her life, she has been a very independent woman,” said Daucanksi. “She’s a very great lady and an example to others.”
Ellison-White, a resident of Kankakee, was born and raised in Hollywood, Alabama, and grew up with 13 siblings. She later moved to Detroit, where she worked as a nurse for most of her life.
“I believe she may be one of the oldest persons alive in the United States,” said Daucanski. “I’m investigating it with the Department of Aging.”
Ellison-White also worked as a Red Cross volunteer and was a member of the First Church of Nazarene.
Daucanski said Ellison-White lifted her out of depression after her husband’s death in 1998.
“I was a zombie,” said Daucanski, a resident of Bradley. “Polly Anna helped me change my attitude. She’s a very intelligent woman and a very positive person.”
In her very late 90s, Ellison-White moved to Kankakee Kommons Assisted Living. During her time there, she pushed her own wheelchair, dressed herself, went on regular shopping trips with Daucanksi and shared many of her favorite recipes with her.
“She was a very good cook,” Daucanski said.
Ellison-White said that she loved to cook. “My specialties were greens and fish—especially buffalo fish—and I was known for my pound cake.”
Three years ago, after 108 years of living an active life, Ellison-White moved to Our Lady of Victory nursing home in Bourbonnais, where she receives 24-hour care.
“She still rolls around in her wheelchair by herself and she’s in her right mind,” said her niece, Rosetta Timms, a resident of Calumet City. “She’s a very nice person, and she’s a very good teacher who’s taught me a lot of things.”
Timms visits with her aunt at least once a week, as does Ellison-White’s grandniece, Renee Meeks.
“Renee will sit and talk and laugh with her. She visits quite regularly.”
Timms said that her aunt loved hats in her younger years.
“I believe she was a feisty young lady. She will still let you know what’s on her mind. Oh, and she has chewed tobacco since she was 15. If you look at her now, you’d never know it. She doesn’t wear glasses and she loves to watch golf on TV. She especially loves Tiger Woods. She also watches religious programs. She’s a wonderful person.”