In small town America, having a Guinness world record holder would be a claim to fame. In 2008, the City of Shelbyville, Ind. — 25 miles outside of Indianapolis on the way to Cincinnati — had not one, but two Guinness entrants. And they lived in the same home — the Heritage House Convalescent Center.
One was Edna Parker, who died that November at the age of 115. At that time the former school teacher had been certified as the oldest person in the world. She was an avid reader until the end. A 1911 graduate of Franklin College in Indiana, she outlived her husband by 70 years.
Remarkably, in the same facility was Sandy Allen, who was also a native of Shelbyville. For 16 years, Guinness listed Allen as the world’s tallest woman. Because of a pituitary condition, she was 7-foot-1 as a high school freshman and eventually topped out at 7-foot-7.
Allen embraced her fame, joking with children and wearing an “I’m With Shorty” t-shirt, but her back and legs were ultimately unable to support her size. That’s how she wound up in the same center as Parker, though being 62 years her junior. She passed away a few months before her older friend.