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World's oldest person dies at 116

Published on 06 December 2012 12:00 PM

A woman thought to be the oldest person in the world has died in a nursing home near Atlanta, Georgia at the age of 116.

Besse Cooper had been ill with a stomach virus and, although she recovered and began to feel better, she died a few days later in her room at the nursing home in Monroe.

She had her hair set and watched a Christmas video before experiencing breathing difficulties and being put on oxygen in her room. She died peacefully there at about 2pm local time on 4 December.

Mrs Cooper has held the title of the world's oldest living person since 2011 and Guinness, which runs the world records, said that only eight people are known to have lived to the age of 116.

She was originally declared the world's oldest person in January 2011 but Guinness learned in May that year that Brazilian Maria Gomes Valentim was actually 48 days older. Ms Valentim died on 21 June 2011.

Mrs Cooper celebrated her 115th birthday last year by enjoying two small slivers of birthday cake with friends and relatives and being serenaded by a musician from Nashville who sang 'Tennessee Waltz'.

She was born in Tennessee before moving to Georgia during World War I to look for work as a teacher. The first Georgian to hold the world record told Guinness on her 116th birthday that her secret to living so long was simple.

'I mind my own business,' she said. 'And I don't eat junk food.'

Her son, Sidney Cooper, revealed the news of his mother's death and said the family would probably hold a funeral for later in the week. He also said at her latest birthday that 'the older she has gotten, the more wittier she has gotten'.

A Guinness official has confirmed the title of the world's oldest person is now held by 115-year-old Dina Manfredini from Johnston in Iowa.

Copyright Press Association 2012

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Last updated: Dec 05 2018

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