At 116, She Has Outlived Generations of Loved Ones. But Her Entire Town Has Become Family.

When Edith Ceccarelli was born in February 1908, Theodore Roosevelt was president, Oklahoma had just become the nation’s 46th state and women did not yet have the right to vote.

At 116, Ms. Ceccarelli is the oldest known person in the United States and the second oldest on Earth. She has lived through two World Wars, the advent of the Ford Model T — and the two deadliest pandemics in American history.

For most of that time, she has lived in one place: Willits, a village tucked in California’s redwood forests that was once known for logging but now may be better known for Ms. Ceccarelli.

At Willits City Hall, where 100-foot redwoods tower overhead, a gold-framed photograph of Ms. Ceccarelli sits in a display case. Last year, the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors proclaimed Feb. 5 as a day to celebrate the county’s favorite daughter.

Saprina Rodriguez, the mayor of Willits, presented Ms. Ceccarelli with a proclamation before her birthday celebration.Credit…Alexandra Hootnick for The New York Times

Ms. Ceccarelli was born on Feb. 5, 1908.Credit…Alexandra Hootnick for The New York Times

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