Emily Whaley, 101, was known for her storytelling abilities


Emily Franklin Upshur Whaley, a storyteller and centenarian who danced on her 100th birthday, died Sunday from complications of an infection at Church Home, where she had lived since 1978. She was 101.

She was born in Baltimore, the daughter of Col. George M. Upshur, who was a lawyer and Baltimore City police commissioner.

At the time of the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904, she was living at 1022 St. Paul St. She remembered the event.

"She talked about climbing to the roof of her home . . . and watching Baltimore burn," recalled Priscilla W. Stieff of Baltimore, her daughter. "She also spoke of her father finally returning home with a horse and cart and his law books, which he had brought from his office because of the fire."

"In those days because he was a police commissioner, they had an early crank telephone in the house and mother wanted to use it but couldn't because her friends didn't have phones and she had no one to call," Mrs. Stieff said.

Mrs. Whaley was reared in both Baltimore and Snow Hill and graduated from the Calvert School. She studied at the Bryn Mawr School before graduating from Snow Hill High in 1909.

In 1916, she married James B. Whaley, an executive with the Sun Life Insurance Company of Canada.

The couple lived in Atlanta for several years until Mr. Whaley's health forced him to retire. The couple then settled near Ocean City for the next 40 years. Mr. Whaley, who was a well-know Maryland sports fisherman, died in 1966.

"Mother loved the beach and swimming and finally gave it up at the age of 84," her daughter said.

"She was fond of saying, 'I stick to the truth as long as I can, but I'm bound to entertain you,'" the daughter said of her mother's storytelling ability.

Mrs. Whaley was also known for her "Emmisms," which come from her name. "When you're as old as I am, you can say what you please," she often said.

When asked why she didn't exercise, she replied, "I like to exercise -- my tongue."

On her 100th birthday, she shrugged off old age and danced with various partners, according to her daughter.

She was a founding member of the Worcester County Garden Club and the Worcester County Historical Society.

Graveside services are set for 1 p.m. tomorrow at the Whaley Cemetery in Whaleyville, Worcester County. A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday at Church Home, 101 N. Bond St.

In addition to her daughter, survivors include four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Memorial donations may be made to Church Home.

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