A psychic researcher who became the world's oldest man in April spent his final hours trying to communicate in Polish and Russian with spirits he sensed around him, a friend says. Alexander Imich, 111, died yesterday at the seniors residence in Manhattan where he had lived since his wife's death in 1986, reports the New York Times. He was born to a Jewish family in Poland in 1903—a few months before the Wright brothers successfully flew an airplane, which he described as the greatest invention of his lifetime—and moved to the US in 1951 after surviving World War II in a Soviet labor camp with his wife and finding that almost all of his friends and relatives had died in the Holocaust.
Imich, whose research on a Polish medium was published in a German academic journal in the 1930s, maintained his interest in parapsychology throughout his life and edited a book called Incredible Tales of the Paranormal in 1995. He attributed his good health to exercise, eating sparingly, and no alcohol, but he wasn't sure how he managed to live so long. "I don't know, I simply didn't die earlier," he told NBC last month. "I have no idea how this happened." Imich was a few years short of being the oldest man on record and wasn't the oldest person alive—there are at least 66 women older than him still alive, including a 116-year-old woman in Japan.