World's Oldest Person, Besse Cooper, Turns 116

(Jessica McGowan/Guinness World Records)

It's difficult enough to fit 16 candles on a birthday cake, but trying squeezing 116 on one.

But Besse Cooper, the world's oldest person according to the Guinness World Records, chose to use numbers instead of actual candles when she celebrated her 116 th birthday Sunday. Guinness claims Cooper is one of only eight people who have reached 116.

In honor of Cooper's achievement, a bridge was named after her in Monroe, Ga., where she lives by the Walton County Board of Commissioners, according to the Walton Tribune. A ribbon cutting ceremony was held Friday, Aug. 24 for the bridge opening.

"The older she has gotten the more wittier she has gotten," her son, Sidney Cooper, told the Walton Tribune. He also relayed a message from Cooper, who was unable to attend the ceremony, who said, "I'm glad I gave them a reason to name it."

Cooper was certified as the world's oldest person by Guinness World Records in January 2011, although she briefly had to give up her title when it was discovered that Brazilian-born Maria Gomes Valentin was 48 days older. But when Valentin died six months later, Cooper was reinstated as the world's oldest person.

Cooper was born in Sullivan, Tenn., in 1896, according to the Walton Tribune. She moved to Monroe during World War I to become a teacher. In 1924, she married her husband Luther and the couple had four children. Today, Cooper has 12 grandchildren and many great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren, according to the Guinness World Records.

Cooper has a secret to achieving 116 years of life.

"I mind my own business," she told the Guinness World Records. "And I don't eat junk food."

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