The world’s oldest people make up an interesting club. These are people who have made it to 100 or beyond and have a lot to tell us about life, longevity and healthy aging. I especially like learning about the history their lives have covered. Here are a few profiles of the world’s oldest people.
Myrtle Jones, South Africa's Oldest Person (Age 111)
Myrtle Jones was South Africa’s oldest person when she died at age 111 (in 2009). She was born in 1897 in colonial Victoria and moved to South Africa in 1948. She had 27 grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren and 7 great-great grandchildren. She loved to bake, never drove a car and lived independently until she was 109. Relatives talked about her sense of humor and good memory. She saw Halley’s Comet twice (in 1910 and 1986). Her advice, “An apple keeps the doctor away. An onion a day keeps the cold away.” She did not smoke or drink.
Buster Martin, world’s oldest marathon runner. Buster Martin was born in 1906 and was training for marathons in 2008 (at the age of 102). He worked until age 97, retired and got a new job after a few years because he was bored in retirement. When he ran a half-marathon (at a record age) he finished in just over 5 hours (including a stop for a beer and a cigarette).
Methuselah is reported, in the Bible, to have lived 969 years. That is a rather extraordinary claim and would easily make Methuselah the longest lived person ever. Is there any truth to the 969 year claim? I won’t get into it, but there are a few theories that try to explain that number including some who think that people were counting months instead of years (making Methuselah 80 instead of 969) and that things (including God-granted longevity) were just different in Biblical times.
Beatrise Farve - Second Oldest Person (age 113)
Beatrice Farve held the title of “second oldest person in the world when she died in 2008 at the age of 113. She had lived in the same house since she was 21 (that’s 92 years). Her daughter described her as a “soft, smiling lady” who was healthy her whole life. She lived in Georgia, USA, and was selling beauty products at age 100. Known as “Mama B” she never took any medications and had no known health conditions. Her philosophy, according to her grandson, was “work hard and eat a good breakfast.” In her case, the breakfast consisted of fried bananas and bacon, daily.
(Source: The Sun Herald
Maria de Jesus - World's Oldest Person (age 115)
Maria de Jesus held the title of “world’s oldest person” in 2009 with an age of 115. She lived in Portugal and was born in 1893. She grew up poor and lost sight in one eye as a child. She worked in the fields at age 12, never learned to read (so much for the education – life expectancy link). At 57, she was widowed (and remained so for 58 more years). She has 6 children, 11 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren. She was never sick and was not taking any medication.
(Source: LA Times
Euphemia Cameron - Scotish Centenarian
Euphemia Cameron turned 100 in 2009. She lives in Dumfries, Scotland. She was a signaler during World War II as a member of the Woman’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF). She celebrated her 100th birthday by being pampered at the salon and says her longevity secret is “I just like to keep active. I don’t like to sit about, I keep myself busy. I don’t know what a hobby is – I’m far too busy!”
(Source: Dumfries and Galloway Standard
Gertrude Baines - World's Oldest Person (age 114 and counting)
Gertrude Baines is the current holder of the “world’s oldest person” title. She lives in Los Angeles in the United States. She was born in 1894. She voted for Barack Obama (see a video of her voting
). She looks fantastic for 114 (in the video) and nothing like what you would expect for a 114 year old.
Jeanne Calment, world’s oldest person. The oldest person to have ever lived (as far as verifiable documentation goes) was Jeanne Calment, of France. She lived to the age of 122 and died in 1997.
Dr. Frank Verhoek - Oldest Living U.S. Rhodes Scholar
Dr. Verhoek turned 100 and is thought to be the U.S's oldest living Rhodes Scholar. He was born in 1909 in Michigan, graduated from Harvard and proceed to get a Masters and PhD in chemistry from the University of Wisconsin and a doctorate from Trinity College, Oxford (he was a Rhodes Scholar there from 1933-1936). He was a professor in chemistry at Ohio State and consulted with many corporations. His research focused on the rates of chemical decomposition but he saw himself as a teacher (source: The Newark Advocate
May Wyatt - 107 and Taking It "Day by Day"
Possibly the oldest (or almost oldest) person living in British Columbia, May Watt was bron in 1902 and remembers coming to Canada at age 6 on a steamship. Her health was good until age 106 when she broke her leg and has been using a wheelchair since then. She is at least 7 years older than the next oldest person at her care facility. Her only advice: "Take it day by day" (source: CTV News
Yuichiro Miura - Climbing Everest at Age 75 (according to Guiness)
A Japenese man, Yuichiro Miura, claims to be the oldest person ever to climb Mt. Everest. Mr. Miura has suffered from 2 heart surgeries. There is some controversy, however. Two days before Yucihiro Miura's feat, a Nepalese man, Min Bahadur Sherchan (age 77) climbed to the top of Everest, but did not submit the proper documents to Guiness to claim the title. Mr. Miura admits that he is not really the oldest, but (in his opinion) the record (whether 75 or 77) will be broken again soon anyway (source: Daily Times
Virginia Call - 111 or 115?
Chicagoan Virginia Call passed away on February 11, 2009. Her family claims she was 115 years old and records show her as 111 (really, who keeps track after 105 anyway?). If she, indeed, was 115 she would join about 89 people in the world who have made it that long (and have been properly documented). Regardless, Ms. Call lived a remarkable and long life (source: Chicago Breaking News