Opal Aline (Kofahl) Smith, Taft's oldest citizen, died last night at the age of 103.
Her nephew, Harry Wilson, who has been her companion and caregiver for many years, said she passed away peacefully at an elder care facility in Bakersfield where she had been under hospice care since last Friday after falling ill earlier in the week.
"I'm devastated but relieved," he said.
Her health, he said, had deteriorated over the past few months.
Funeral services are pending.
Opal Smith was born Oct. 29, 1909 in Winona, Missouri and has lived in Taft since 1920. At the start of her senior year at Taft High School she married William Earl (Bill) Smith on Sept. 27, 1927 in Bakersfield.
After attending business college in Fresno, she went to work for Standard Oil Company – now known as Chevron – retiring in 1971 after 29 years as a payroll clerk with the company.
Smith and Wilson were grand marshals of the 2010 Oildorado Days parade, a celebration that put her in the spotlight.
She had appeared in local parades prior to that in the Automobile Club entry because she was a member of AAA longer than anyone – 87 years – and still had a valid driver's license.