Oldest living person dies at age 117: Here are 5 others who have lived to a ripe old age

From left: Gertrude Weaver, Jeralean Talley, Susannah Mushatt Jones, Emma Morano-Martinuzzi and Sakari Momoi are currently the five oldest living people in the world. -- PHOTOS: REUTERS, AFP, YOUTUBE, FACEBOOK
From left: Gertrude Weaver, Jeralean Talley, Susannah Mushatt Jones, Emma Morano-Martinuzzi and Sakari Momoi are currently the five oldest living people in the world. -- PHOTOS: REUTERS, AFP, YOUTUBE, FACEBOOK

The world's oldest person, Ms Misao Okawa of Japan, died on Wednesday at the age of 117.

There are currently 78 supercentenarians - people aged at least 110 - across the globe, according to the Gerontology Research Group which tracks these venerable people.

What are their secrets to longevity?

Ms Okawa, the daughter of a cloth merchant in Osaka, was born in 1898. Well enough to enjoy cake at a birthday party on March 5, she gradually lost her appetite and died this week, surrounded by her grandchildren.


In earlier interviews, she had credited her longevity to "eating delicious things" and getting plenty of rest. Her favourite dishes included ramen noodles, beef stew, hashed beef and rice.

Here a look at others who have lived to a ripe old age.

1. Getrude Weaver, 116


Born: July 4, 1898

She became the world's oldest person after Ms Okawa's death.

The mother of four from Arkansas, who used to work as a domestic helper, lives in the Silver Oaks Health and Rehabilitation Centre in Camden. There is reportedly no birth record for her, and it is likely that her family celebrated her birthday on July 4, Independence Day in the United States, because they were patriotic.

Ms Weaver attributes her longevity to treating others well. "I treat everyone the way I want to be treated," she told reporters on her 116th birthday when she received a letter from President Barack Obama.

Her birthday wish for her 117th birthday? She hopes US President Barack Obama can attend her birthday party.

2. Jeralean Talley, 115


Born: May 23, 1899

This supercentenarian, who celebrated her 115th birthday in May last year, is now the second-oldest person in the world and in the United States.

Born in the state of Georgia, the great-great-grandmother has a 17-strong brood and even received a personalised letter from US President Barack Obama for being part of an extraordinary generation.

The feisty Talley, who now resides in Inkster, Michigan, even went fishing last year and caught seven catfish, according to media reports.

Her usual reply when asked about the key to living to a ripe old age: "It's all in the good Lord's hands and there's nothing I can do about it."

3. Susannah Mushatt Jones, 115


Born: July 6, 1899

The secret to the third-oldest living American's longevity is - there is no none. "Believe in the Lord," Ms Jones told Time magazine in an interview last July.

Even at the grand old age of 115, she is still going strong and has an healthy appetite. She starts her day with an indulgent breakfast of four bacon strips, scrambled eggs and grits. Her only medication? A multi-vitamin tablet and another pill for her blood pressure.

Born and raised in Alabama, she was married only briefly and does not have children. Instead, she used her salary from working as a child care professional for wealthy families to see her nieces through college. Blind from glaucoma since she turned 100, she also set up a college scholarship programme for African-American students.

4. Emma Morano-Martinuzzi, 115


Born: Nov 29, 1899

Nonna (Italian for grandmother) Emma, as she is affectionately called, bears the distinction of being the last living European to have been born in the 19th century.

Now living alone in Verbania in northern Italy, a surprisingly healthy Morano keeps herself busy doing household chores and cooking.

Sticking to a strict, no-nonsense diet appears to have helped her age well. Breakfast is usually biscuits with milk or water, while lunch is pasta and minced meat. For dinner, she drinks only a glass of milk.

But she takes two eggs - one raw, one cooked - every day, a ritual she has been following faithfully since she turned 20, as advised by a doctor.

Then-president Giorgio Napolitano awarded Morano with the Knight of Order of Merit of the Italian Republic in December 2011. She also spoke briefly on a radio show on her 114th birthday.

5. Sakari Momoi, 112


Born: Feb 5, 1903

The former high school principal from Fukushima might be the world's oldest man, but he is considered "young" in the world of supercentenarians. He is ranked 36th on the list of the world's oldest people.

Mr Momoi became the world's oldest man after American Alexander Imich died on June 8 last year. Mr Imich was just a day older than Mr Momoi.

"I want to live two more years," he famously said in an interview on Aug 20 last year after receiving a certificate from Guinness World Records validating his achievement.

Other than being hard of hearing, he is healthy and enjoys reading books and watching sumo wrestling on television, according to Japanese media.

Sources: Los Angeles Times, Time, Gerontology Research Group, AFP, Mirror Online

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