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Ila Stargel Sewell Jones, oldest Georgian, passes on

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Ila Stargel Sewell Jones of Rome was the 10th-oldest person in the world when she passed away Friday.

She was 114 and a resident at Manor House of Rome.

As of Friday, the Gerontology Research Group still had Jones listed among the world’s 42 supercentenarians — living people who are validated to be 110 or older.

Jones was born Aug. 21, 1903, in Lumpkin County, but moved to Floyd County in 1930 to teach at Cave Spring Consolidated School. It was there she met and married Paul Sewell, and where the couple raised their family.

For the next 30 years or so, Jones taught generations of students at the Georgia School for the Deaf and, later, at Cedartown High School.

John House's Cave Spring Chapel will be handling the funeral arrangements.

Her oldest grandchild, Mary Ila Blake of Knoxville, Tennessee, said in August that her grandmother had little energy during a birthday celebration at the nursing home. Still, Jones enjoyed her life and her family.

“Last time my parents went down, they walked her outside. When she’s awake her cognitive ability is intact, and her sense of humor,” Blake said at the time.

Jones’ son, Paul Sewell Jr., still lives in Rome. He talked about his mother’s life during a 2013 interview, beginning with the fact that she first saw Halley’s Comet at the age of 7 and again, when it came around 75 years later, in 1986.

Sewell also provided a glimpse of a well-educated and well-traveled woman.

Jones left Cave Spring to teach in Huntsville, Alabama, in 1963, five years after her husband had died. She met her second husband a year later and they eventually moved to Pasadena, Texas, where she became a licensed sewage facility operator and ran the local bingo game.

At age 85 she moved to California and then back to Texas before she returned to Northwest Georgia.

“She moved back to Rome in 1992, and she’s been in Rome ever since,” Sewell said.

The Gerontology Research Group lists the oldest living person as 118-year-old Nabi Tajima of Japan. Four other women in Japan, two in Italy and one in Spain round out the top tier, along with Delphine Gibson of Pennsylvania, who was born just four days before Jones.

Lucille Randon, 113, of France, now moves to the 10th slot.