Monroe, GA — Besse Cooper, the woman officially recognized as the world’s oldest person, has died. She was 116.
Besse passed away on Tuesday afternoon in a Georgia nursing home, reports the Associated Press. Her son, Sidney Cooper, said she died peacefully in Monroe, around 45 miles east of Atlanta.
Besse Cooper’s immense age meant she had lived during three different centuries, was already a teenager by the time the Titanic sunk, and would have been 71 at the time of the moon landing.
Sidney Cooper explained how his mother had recently suffered a stomach virus, only to feel better on Monday. Bu,t by Tuesday, after she’d had her hair set and watched a Christmas video, she suffered from problems with her breathing. She was hooked up to an oxygen supply, only to pass away at approximately 2 pm. Her son told the Associated Press:
“With her hair fixed it looked like she was ready to go.”
In recent years, plenty of people have laid claim to being the world’s oldest individual including a Chinese woman who said she was 127 and a Georgian woman who was reputedly 132 when she died in October.
However, Besse Cooper was officially recognized as the world’s oldest person in January 2011 by Guinness World Records. In May 2011, record-keepers learned that Maria Gomes Valentin of Brazil was 48 days older, but Valentin died the next month.
Robert Young, Guinness senior consultant for gerontology, recalls meeting Cooper when she was 11 years old and remembers her mental quickness:
“It’s a sad day for me. At that age she was doing really well, she was able to read books.”
When Besse celebrated her 115th birthday last year, she was serenaded by a musician from Nashville while she snacked on small slivers of cake.
Sidney Cooper has confirmed the family will hold a funeral for Besse later this week.
Her title of world’s oldest person now passes to 115-year-old Dina Manfredini of Johnston, Iowa, according to Young. Manfredini has to wait a little longer before she breaks the all-time Guinness record however. That benchmark belongs to Jeanne Calment, a French woman who lived to be 122 years old and died in 1997.