EULA M. COUSINS was the star of the show last September when a crowd of well-wishers descended on her at a Roxborough retirement home.
There was a letter from President Obama and his wife, Michelle. U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah and his wife, news-anchor Renee Chenault-Fattah, were among the celebs who dropped by.
After all, making it to 110 is an amazing accomplishment, and particularly making it to 110 and looking as great as she did at that birthday celebration in her beige skirt and sweater, her face unwrinkled, a saucy carnation in her hair.
But Eula Cousins accomplished more in her life than living to be very old. She served her adopted city with a long career of helping as a social worker, with a particular emphasis on needy children.
Eula Cousins, a daughter of the South who came to Philadelphia in 1929, bringing her unselfish brand of love and caring to bear on the city's social problems, died Jan. 29. She had lived in Cathedral Village for 21 years and previously lived in West Philadelphia.
Theodore Roosevelt was president when she was born on Sept. 14, 1902, in Camden, N.C., and it was several months before the Wright brothers would change the world by flying their rickety aircraft at Kitty Hawk, N.C.
Before she even got to Philadelphia, Eula was having a major impact on young people as a teacher in elementary and junior-high schools in North Carolina after graduating from Virginia Union College, now a university.
She got her students into debating, crafts and sports, pushing them to excel and helping them win many honors.
After she arrived in Philadelphia, she studied early-childhood education at Temple University, and later studied at the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Work.
She went to work for the city Welfare Department, working with families to determine their eligibility for assistance. She also worked with the blind, the aged and the unemployed.
"Her concern and understanding for all people made her dynamic in her work and endeared her to those she worked with," her family said.
Eula became a caseworker for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, and later a probation officer with Municipal Court, working with dependent and delinquent children.
Eula tried to retire at the usual retirement age, but was called back to serve as a counselor and coordinator of crafts for the Young Men's Hebrew Association.
She married William M. Cousins, one of the first African-American optometrists in the city, in 1935. They were longtime and active members of First African Baptist Church of Philadelphia. He died in 1981.
Eula also volunteered her services to the NAACP, the hospice program of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, the YWCA and YMCA, of which her husband had been a member of the board of directors. She was a member of the Philadelphia chapter of Frontiers International and the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society.
When asked at her birthday party the inevitable question of what it was that let her live so long, Eula told an Inquirer reporter it was "love" - growing up in a loving family free of friction, loud voices and the evils of strong drink.