Profile: A 106-Year-Old With Plenty Left to Say

Here at Voices of NY, newspapers are our bread and butter. So we were tickled to read this profile of Iris Gibbs, a 106-year-old Queens resident who grew up in Barbados and has never owned a television or radio. She stays current by reading newspapers every day.

Iris Gibbs

At 106, Iris Gibbs doesn't consider herself an "old woman." (Photo via

Reporter Tony Best interviewed Gibbs for the print edition of Carib News, and for the Barbados website

“I am 106 years but I am not an old woman,” was the way she put it with a smile on as she sipped on a cold non-alcoholic drink. “I cannot hear as well as I used to, but apart from that I am fine. My memory is good and I  Thank God that everything else but my hearing remains. He hasn’t taken away everything.”

Several of Gibbs’ family members also lived long lives:

Ms. Gibbs, who grew up as a member of a Thorpe family of long-livers in Barbados, listed an  aunt who died at 102 years; a sister who was 99 on her passing; her father, Percival Thorpe, lived to the ripe age of 96; a “baby” sister, Cicely, who will be 92 years old in August while another sister, Montelle died at 94.

A primary school teacher in Barbados, Gibbs came to New York in 1953. She trained to be a cosmetologist here, and ran a salon out of the house she shared with her husband, Simeon Gibbs:

“My husband and I were married in New York in 1957 and we lived in the house which he had built. I have lived here ever since,” She recalled. “He was an excellent shoemaker who made leather shoes from scratch and repaired them too.

He used a machine to make excellent shoes. I was a hairdresser and because of my training and orientation I did the hair of both whites and Blacks. It didn’t matter to me, the color of the hair or of the person’s skin. We were able to live comfortably.”

She offered some advice to young people how to live a good life:

“We had a beautiful upbringing in Barbados, a loving family, and that’s why my advice to young people today is to live a good life by serving God. My long life is a blessing from God and I believe living to 106 years is a gift, a blessing” from the Almighty.

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