World's Oldest Living Person, Besse Cooper, Turns 116
The world’s oldest living person, Besse Cooper of Monroe, Ga., turned 116 on Sunday. Cooper is one of only eight people, and four Americans, to live to 116, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Celebrating this incredible milestone, the neighboring town of Between, Georgia, where Cooper once worked as a schoolteacher, named a bridge in her honor. Cooper was not able to make the ceremony, but her son, Sidney Cooper, who has praised his mother's dry wit, passed on a statement from his mother to The Walton Tribune.
“I’m glad I gave them a reason to name it,” Cooper said.
Cooper was born August 26, 1896, in Sullivan, Tennessee. She moved to Georgia in 1917 and married her husband, Luther, seven years later. Luther passed away in 1963 and Cooper did not remarry. She has four children, 12 grandchildren and a dozen great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren. Cooper currently resides in a nursing home, but she lived on her own until she was 105.
Cooper was initially named the world’s oldest living person in January of 2011, until it was revealed that Marla Gomes Valentim of Brazil was 48 days older. When Ms. Valentim passed away on June 21, 2011, Cooper was reinserted into the record-holding title.
Sidney Cooper said his mother stays active and eats right, a fact Besse confirmed when she told The Guinness Book of World Records her keys to living a long life. “I mind my own business and I don't eat junk food.”
Cooper still has a ways to go if she wants to break the mark of the longest recorded lifespan, an honor held by Jeanne Calmet, who died on August 4, 1997 at the age of 122 years and 164 days old. –Hal Sundt
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