World's Oldest Person Dies

A 115-year-old French woman, believed to be the world's oldest person, died today, ending a journey through life that spanned three centuries.

Marie Bremont died in her sleep at 2:15 a.m. at a retirement home where she lived in Cande, 150 miles west of Paris, said her nephew, Georges Crespin, one of two surviving family members.

"For the past eight to 10 days she was a bit more tired than usual," said the retirement home director, Joseph Foucher. "She died calmly, in the image of her life."

At Bremont's 115th birthday on April 25, she dressed up in a red suit and shared strawberry cake and a glass of white wine with friends at the retirement home. She listened as three girls — each born almost exactly a century after Bremont — recited a poem written by staff members of the home.

Bremont's sight and hearing had deteriorated, but Foucher said she told him after the party that she was "proud to be the doyenne of humanity."

Hard Road to the Oldest Title

She was considered the world's oldest person since the death of Eva Morris of Britain in November, just four days before her 115th birthday.

Bremont is the second French woman to hold the honor. Jeanne Calment of France, died Aug. 4, 1997, at age 122.

Surviving the tests of time wasn't always easy. At 103, Bremont was hit by a car and broke her arm.

She lost a first husband, Constant Lemaitre, during World War I and a second, taxi driver Florentin Bremont, in 1967. "I had two good husbands. I have always been happy," she once said.

Born in 1886 in the village of Noellet in western France, the daughter of a lumberjack, Bremont began working at age 8 on a farm carrying buckets of pig feed.

She later worked as a pharmaceutical factory worker, nanny and seamstress in the Paris region, where she met her husbands.

Like many poor rural folk, she went to Paris in 1906, at the age of 20, to find work.

"My eyes were wide open. I marveled at everything. Oh, the Eiffel Tower!" she told Paris Match magazine in an interview in April. "In the workshop, with my colleagues, we often talked about a strange invention: the television."

Dueling Geriatrics

Bremont returned with her second husband to western France, settling in Vritz, in the Loire Atlantique region, where she lived until she was 106. She moved into the retirement home in nearby Cande in 1992 at her doctor's insistence.

Protesting at first, she later conceded, "I'm well cared for here."

Bremont is to be buried Friday in a private ceremony in Vritz, near Cande, Foucher said.

Elizabeth Israel, who lives on the Caribbean island of Dominica, is considered there as the world's oldest living person. She celebrated her 126th birthday in January, according to officials there. The Guinness Book of World Records is investigating that claim.

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