The woman who was listed as the world’s oldest person died Tuesday in a Georgia nursing home at age 116.
Besse Cooper died peacefully Tuesday afternoon in Monroe, according to her son Sidney Cooper. Monroe is about 45 miles east of Atlanta.
Cooper said his mother had been ill recently with a stomach virus, then felt better on Monday. On Tuesday he said she had her hair set and watched a Christmas video, but later had trouble breathing. She was put on oxygen in her room and died there about 2 p.m., Cooper said.
“With her hair fixed it looked like she was ready to go,” he said.
Besse Cooper was declared the world’s oldest person in January 2011. In May 2011, Guinness World Records learned that Maria Gomes Valentin of Brazil was 48 days older. Valentin died the next month.
“It’s a sad day for me,” said Robert Young, Guinness senior consultant for gerontology. He recalls meeting Cooper when she was 111 and took note of her mental agility.
“At that age she was doing really well, she was able to read books,” he said.
Last year on Cooper’s 115th birthday, she celebrated with friends and relatives, enjoyed two small slivers of birthday cake and was serenaded by a musician from Nashville who sang “Tennessee Waltz.”
Sidney Cooper said his family will likely hold a funeral for his mother later this week.
Besse Cooper was the first Georgian to hold the world record. She was born in Tennessee and moved to Georgia during World War I to look for work as a teacher.
The title of world’s oldest person now belongs to 115-year-old Dina Manfredini, of Johnston, Iowa, Young said. The oldest known person of all time was Jeanne Calment, a French woman who lived to be 122 years old and died in 1997.
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… Sidney Cooper says his mother credits the fact that she ‘‘never ate junk food,’’ although she did occasionally have potato chips, and enjoyed bacon and eggs and fried chicken. “She ate a lot of vegetables,’’ he says.
‘‘She always worked outside,’’ he says. “She preferred outdoor work.’’ She raked her own leaves, and after she was widowed in her 60s, she lived alone till she was 105, he says. …
Besse Cooper did not come from an especially long-lived family. Her seven siblings died in their 60s and 70s. “Her mother died in her 60s; her father lived to be 72,’’ Sidney Cooper says. He and his siblings, though, are still living and are now ages ranging from late 60s to early 80s. …
Besse Cooper has not been entirely without health problems. In her 90s, she was hospitalized with pneumonia, her son says. And a year ago, she became dehydrated. “The doctors were amazed that she recovered so quickly,’’ Sidney Cooper says. …
She is one of only eight people — and four Americans — who have been confirmed to be at least 116. Born in 1896 in Tennessee, Cooper, who worked as a teacher, married her husband Luther in 1924, and they had four children. Today, she has 12 grandchildren and more than a dozen great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren. Her secret to longevity: “I mind my own business,” Cooper said. “And I don’t eat junk food.”
When she was told she was oldest person alive on February 1, 2011 she said “I am? Then I should get a box of chocolates – assorted!” Then again, there are some key health benefits to chocolate as well. Unfotunately Ms. Cooper passed away on December 4th, 2012 at age 116 years 100 days.
I’m very curious about her diet. How much meat and dairy products did she eat, for example? What were her favorite foods?
“They said she attributed her longevity to a healthy diet, with a daily breakfast consisting of a bread roll, fruit and coffee.”
Decaf? What bran? What kind(s) of fruit? What kind(s) of bread roll? What about lunch and dinner? I can’t find what else she eats. You’d think people would be more curious about these details. I am. Did she allow any DNA testing to see what might account for her longevity? If you have actual answers (not just a personal view point) to any of these questions, please leave a comment below!
The Gerontology Research Group which monitors people confirmed to be over 110 years old (Supercentenarians) says this:
We presently recognize 65 Validated Living Supercentenarians: 61 Women and 4 Men. We count 59 deaths of Supercentenarians so far for the year 2012, some of whom were validated posthumously.
They have some research available on their web site. Right now I’m watching this video “Is Aging Reversible? Resetting the Clock”
Rest peacefully Besse, and congratulations on the amazing biological accomplishment!