Emma Didlake

1905 - 2015 (Age 110)


WEST BLOOMFIELD (AP) -- A Michigan woman who was believed to be the nation’s oldest veteran at 110 has died, about a month after meeting President Barack Obama in the Oval Office.

Emma Didlake died Sunday in West Bloomfield, northwest of Detroit, according to the Oakland County medical examiner’s office.

Didlake was a 38-year-old wife and mother of five when she signed up in 1943 for the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps. She served about seven months stateside during the war, as a private and driver.


She spent time with the president in July during a trip to Washington that was arranged by Talons Out Honor Flight, a southwest Michigan chapter of a national nonprofit that provides free, one-day trips for veterans to visit monuments and memorials in the nation’s capital.

“Emma Didlake served her country with distinction and honor, a true trailblazer for generations of Americans who have sacrificed so much for their country,” Obama said Monday afternoon in a statement. “I was humbled and grateful to welcome Emma to the White House last month, and Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to Emma’s family, friends, and everyone she inspired over her long and quintessentially American life.”

Didlake was born in Alabama and moved with her family to Detroit in 1944. She was known to her family as “Big Mama” and recently moved to an assisted living family in suburban Detroit.

She was deemed the oldest U.S. veteran based on information gleaned by Honor Flight representatives through national outreach campaigns.

Granddaughter Marilyn Horne told The Associated Press last month that when Talons Out officials presented her grandmother with a short-sleeved shirt bearing the group’s logo to wear on the trip to Washington, Didlake took a look and said: “’I don’t have Michelle Obama arms — I’m going to need a jacket.’”

During her visit to the White House, Didlake wore a patriotic-themed neck scarf and sat in her wheelchair in the same spot in the Oval Office where foreign leaders sit when they meet with Obama.


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Mrs. Didlake, thank you so much for your unselfish service to our country. I wish I had the honor to have met you, I am sure it would have been a delightful visit. May you rest in peace, Gods speed to you Mrs. Didlake.

And so you shall be to me, as A FLAME IS TO FIRE,,

An amazing woman ,Makes me proud to be a black woman. Rest In Paradise Mrs. Didlake

Loved! Valued! Greatly Appreciated! Job well done, Emma Didlake. I look forward to hearing your life story firsthand when we meet in paradise. (Luke 23:43)

May the family of Emma Didlake find comfort and peace in knowing that she is in God's memory, waiting for what is promised at John 11:21-26 to take place. What a joy it will be then to welcome back your lost loved one.

To the family of Emma Didlake. She definitely lived a long life of special mightiness from God. (Psalms 90:10) Dry your tears because you have the hope of seeing your dear Emma again because she is in a deep sleep waiting for God to call her name to come on out. She will answer that call and come out to see her loved ones again with open arms. Keep her memories close in your hearts and minds and cherish them forever. May the comfort of the God of all comfort be with you all during this time...

Thank you for your service to this Country.and may God be with the family during this sad time.

Brenda Petty
Fort Polk, LA 71459

On behalf of Louisiana Women Veterans, we would like to extend our heartfelt sympathies to the family of Ms. Emma Didlake, U.S. Army WAC, WWII veteran. Here is a poem that we honor our women who served in the military with at their service:

She is a woman veteran
Whose Service was true
She proudly served
The Red, White and Blue

She gave a part of her life
So others could be free
And without any hesitation
She joined unselfishly