Over the weekend, the oldest person I have ever met passed away. In fact, the distinction isn’t even close.
I had a great uncle who lived to be 101 but he was a spring chicken compared to University of Montana legend Emma Lommasson. On Saturday, she died at 107 years of age, just shy of her 108th birthday. A few months before I moved to South Carolina I had the privilege of meeting Ms. Lommasson. Based on that special afternoon, I am not surprised one bit that she would live for six more years.
In 2013, former Griz football/basketball broadcaster Mick Holien arranged a visit between former Griz football head coach Mick Delaney and Ms. Lommasson at her nursing home. Besides the two Micks and the centenarian, I was the only other person there. I was invited to document the occasion for social media.
I watched as Coach Delaney held Ms. Lommasson’s hand while the two discussed life and football. Totally alert and with her wit intact, Ms. Lommasson convinced me that she should be the one calling plays on Saturday!
After she spoke with Coach Delaney, Ms. Lommasson focused her attention on me. She asked me questions and I tried my best to explain what I do. She was warm, humble, and funny. She made me think that perhaps living past 100 wouldn’t be so bad after all.
I feel blessed that I was able to meet Missoula’s oldest and one of its most famous residents. There is no doubt that she lived a long, happy life. RIP Ms. Lommasson. Don’t Blink.