World's Oldest Person Dies in Georgia at 116

Besse Cooper fought for women's right to vote

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 5, 2012 1:18 AM CST | Updated Dec 5, 2012 2:00 AM CST

(Newser) – A former schoolteacher in Georgia has died after spending nearly two years as the oldest person alive. Besse Cooper died peacefully at the age of 116 yesterday, not long after she had her hair done and watched a Christmas video in the nursing home where she had lived since 2001, the AP reports. When asked about her secret to a long life by the Guinness Book of Records earlier this year, Cooper said, "I mind my own business. And I don't eat junk food."

Cooper, who was born in Tennessee but moved to Georgia to find work during World War I, was part of the suffrage movement before women gained the right to vote in 1920, CNN reports. After the 19th Amendment was passed, Cooper voted in all but two presidential elections: this year's and 1948, when she and her husband believed Thomas Dewey was sure to win. Her son says her mind was sharp and she remained in "amazing" health until the very end, and she looked back at her 80s as the best years of her life. The world's oldest person is now believed to be 115-year-old Dina Manfredini of Johnston, Iowa. Of note, the AP adds that the world's tallest woman has died in China at the age of 39. Yao Defen was 7-foot-7.

In this Feb. 1, 2011 photo, Besse Cooper, sits in her room at a nursing home, in Monroe, Georgia.
In this Feb. 1, 2011 photo, Besse Cooper, sits in her room at a nursing home, in Monroe, Georgia.   (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)
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