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Gerontology Wiki
Merle Phillips
Merle Phillips
Phillips in March 2017 at the age of 109 (almost 110)
Birth: 2 April 1907
Kingston, Arkansas, USA
Death: 18 August 2018
Carol Stream, Illinois, USA
Age: 111 years, 138 days
Country: United StatesUSA

Merle Olive Phillips (née Garton; 2 April 1907 – 18 August 2018) was an American supercentenarian and author, whose age is currently unvalidated by the Gerontology Research Group.


Phillips was born on a farm in Kingston, Arkansas, USA, on 2 April 1907. Her father died of typhoid fever four months after her birth. She studied maths, psychology, and education at Buena Vista College, Iowa, earning a bachelor's degree. She met her husband, Leonard, while she was in graduate school at the University of Iowa. They moved to Illinois where she worked as a chemistry lab worker and he worked as a research biologist. They never had children.

Leonard Phillips died of leukemia in 1968. Merle retired from her job in 1972, although she continued to work in child care and elder care well in to her 90s. She also worked as a Christian missionary, travelling to Israel, Puerto Rico and the Philippines.

Around 1970, Phillips nearly died when a truck hit her car, pushing it into oncoming traffic. It caused her engine to be pushed into her front seat. Her heart, liver, spleen, stomach and lungs were all damaged, and she was not expected to survive, but she recovered.

As well as writing, Phillips enjoyed Sudoku and playing Scrabble. She died in Carol Stream, Illinois on 18 August 2018 at the age of 111 years, 138 days.


Phillips has written 11 books, and is working on a 12th. She began writing when she was 72, with the intention of selling them to make profit. However, she gave up selling them when she was in her 80s. Her books are non-fiction and mostly autobiographical.