Retired educator to celebrate 110th Birthday

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 Ethel B. Darden, a retired educator and believed to be the oldest person in Chicago, will celebrate her 110th birthday with friends and alumni of Howalton School during her Birthday Celebration, Saturday, February 27, 2010, from 2-4 p.m., at Montgomery Place, 5550 S. Lake Shore Drive, in Chicago, an assisted living facility where she now resides.

Darden, a native of Dallas, Texas, a life member of Alpha Kappa Alpha, and one of five charter members of the Dallas Alpha Xi Omega Chapter, will gain a new title on her birthday along with her many other academic and community achievements – that of Super Centenarian (those persons who live 110 years and beyond).

Darden is accustomed to yearly birthday celebrations attended by a large host of friends and alumni. Each year, some of the same familiar faces come to Montgomery Place to celebrate with her. Some 200 people attended her 2008 Birthday Party.

She still gets a kick out of singing one of her favorite songs – “When you’re smiling, when you’re smiling, the whole world smiles with you.” However, if you’re in her presence, she wants you to sing along with her. In an interview with, three months after her 109th Birthday Celebration, Darden asked Author Juanita Bratcher to sing along with her. Said Bratcher, “I chimed right in without hesitation. It was a fun moment for both of us, and for those who were looking on.”

Darden earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wiley College. She did graduate studies at the University of Wisconsin, Hampton Institute, Chicago Art Institute and Roosevelt University.

She is a resident of Hyde Park. President Barack Obama also hails from Hyde Park. According to her caregiver, Darden voted for President Obama in the Primary and General Elections.

Darden attributes her key to longevity to “being loved, being a very careful person and of having many years of prosperity that led to living a good life.”   

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