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Posted: 3:42 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012

World’s oldest person, Ga. resident, dies at 116


Besse Cooper photo
Guinness Book of World Records
Besse Cooper at her 116th birthday on Aug. 25, 2012.

By Jay Black

Besse Cooper lived 116 years and 100 days.

Mrs. Cooper died as the world’s oldest person Tuesday afternoon at her nursing home in Monroe, Georgia. She was 116 years old.

Besse Cooper died peacefully, according to her son Sidney Cooper.

Cooper says his mother had been ill 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. He said she was put on oxygen in her room and died there about 2 p.m.

When Mrs. Cooper turned 116 in August, a bridge was named in her honor in Monroe. She Cooper wasn’t able to attend the dedication, but smiled when told of the honor, her family said.

Mrs. Cooper was born on Aug. 26, 1896, in Tennessee, but moved to Walton County during World War I. Her son told the AJC she came to Georgia to teach because teachers made more money here.

She married her husband Luther in 1924 and left teaching when they had their first child in 1924. Mr. Cooper died in 1963.

She was declared the world's oldest person in January 2011. In May, Guinness World Records learned that Maria Gomes Valentin of Brazil was 48 days older. Valentin died in June.

In a 2011 interview with the AJC, Cooper’s family credited her lifestyle and genes for her longevity.

“I mind my own business and I don’t eat junk food,” she said at her 113th birthday celebration.

A Guinness official says the title now belongs to 115-year-old Dina Manfredini, of Johnston, Iowa.



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