Besse Cooper, World’s Oldest Person, Dies at 116

Dec 5, 2012 7:10am
ap besse cooper mi 121205 wblog Besse Cooper, Worlds Oldest Person, Dies at 116

David Goldman/AP Photo

Besse Cooper, the woman who was listed as the oldest person in the world, has died at the age of 116 in a Georgia nursing home.

She died peacefully Tuesday in Monroe, Ga., after she became ill with a stomach virus the previous day, Cooper’s son Sidney told The Associated Press. His mother complained that she was having trouble breathing Tuesday and was put on an oxygen tank. She died in her room around 2 p.m., her son said.

The title of world’s oldest person now belongs to 115-year-old Dina Manfredini of Johnston, Iowa, according to Robert Young, Guinness World Records senior consultant for gerontology.

Cooper had been declared the world’s oldest person in January 2011. Guinness World Records learned in May last year that Maria Gomes Valentim of Brazil was 48 days older. Cooper had to give up her title, only to reclaim it a month later after Valentim died.

Cooper was interviewed by Guinness World Records earlier this year when she turned 116. When she was asked her secret to longevity, she said, “I mind my own business and I don’t eat junk food.”

She was born in Tennessee in 1896 and moved to Georgia during World War I to look for work as a teacher, according to the AP.

Cooper married her husband, Luther, in 1924, and they had four children. She had 12 grandchildren and more than a dozen great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren, according to Guinness.

The oldest person ever recorded was Jeanne Calment of France, who lived to the age of 122 years and 164 days.

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