GRG News for 2017
August 24, 2017; Delphine Gibson, verified by the Gerontology Research Group as the oldest person in the United States, celebrated her 114th birthday on August 17. She became the oldest person in the United States following the death of Adele Dunlap, 114, on February 5, 2017, and the oldest living American person following the death of Marie-Josephine Gaudette, 115, on July 13, 2017.
Born as Delphine Tucker in Ridgeway, Fairfield County, South Carolina on August 17, 1903, she married Taylor Gibson in 1928 went on to have three children. After her husband retired in 1962, they moved to Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania. Taylor Gibson passed away in 1980 at the age of 88. A few years after his death, she became blind. In 2004, she moved to the Huntingdon Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. Gibson attributes her long life to a faith in God. She is a member of Mount Hope Missionary Baptist Church.
To read a birthday article in full, click here.
Delphine Gibson at the age of 114.
August 11, 2017; Israel Kristal, verified by the Gerontology Research Group as the oldest living man in the world, passed away today at 2pm aged 113 years, 330 days. He is the ninth-oldest verified man ever and the oldest person ever from Israel. Furthermore, Kristal is the oldest Holocaust survivor ever and the oldest Jewish male on record.
Born as Izrael Icek Krysztal to Mojzesz Dawid Krysztal and Brucha Krysztal (nee Rojt) in the Polish village of Malenie, (then part of the Russian Empire) on September 15, 1903; his mother died only ten years later in 1913. As his father was drafted during the First World War, Kristal was forced to work hard on a farm to earn his living as a teenager. In 1920, he was reunited with his father and siblings in Lodz, where the family opened a confectionary. Israel Kristal became a candy maker, which would remain his lifelong profession; later, this would prompt reporters world-wide to refer to his story as a "bittersweet long life" in articles devoted to him.
In 1928, at the age of 25, Israel Kristal married Chaja Fajga Frucht in Wegleszyn, Poland. The couple had two children. The Kristal family ran a local chocolate and candy business until the outbreak of the Second World War, when Lodz was occupied by Nazi-Germany. The Nazis forced the Jewish population of Lodz, including the Kristal family, to move to a district called the "Litzmannstadt Ghetto"; Israel Kristal would live there for four years, until he was deported to Auschwitz in August 1944, where he would remain for another three months. Subsequently, he would be a prisoner in the labour camps of Wuestegiersdorf, Doernau, and Schottenwerk, where he would regain his freedom in May 1945 by the hands of allied forces. Although his wife and children had been killed in the Holocaust, Israel Kristal did not lose his will to live after this devastating loss. Instead, he returned to Lodz, where he would restart the confectionary and marry his second wife, Szejwa (nee Chuda). Together, they had a son: Chaim Dawid. In 1950, Mr. Kristal and his family decided to leave Poland to settle in Haifa, Israel, where he has lived ever since.
Due to the hardships Mr. Kristal had to face in his early life, the validation of his age proved to be extremely difficult; even though the first attempts to validate Mr. Kristal's age had started in early 2014, a breakthrough was only realised in January 2016. In order to validate his age, the Gerontology Research Group not only contacted Mr. Kristal's family, but also international institutions specializing in genealogical research; therefore, a special word of appreciation should go to the Jewish Records Indexing in Poland. As a result of this international cooperation, sufficient early-life, middle-life, and late-life evidence was obtained to meet modern validation standards.
To read an obituary article, click here.
Various photos from throughout his life can be found here. The correct spelling of "Israel" Kristal's name does not include a "Y". However, some news organizations "transliterated" the spelling from Hebrew, not realizing that the original documents from Poland used "Izrael", which was later changed to "Israel" by the family when Mr. Kristal moved to Israel.
Mr Kristal receives his World's Oldest Man certificate from Marco Frigatti, Head of Records at Guinness World Records.
August 9, 2017; Nabi Tajima, verified by the Gerontology Research Group as the oldest person in Japan, celebrated her 117th birthday on August 4. She is the second-oldest living person in the world and the second-oldest person ever from Japan. Tajima became the oldest living person in Japan on September 27, 2015, following the death of a 115-year-old anonymous woman from Tokyo. If she lives to September 1, 2017, she will surpass Misao Okawa to become the oldest person ever from Japan.
Tajima was born in Araki, then known as Wan Village, in Kikaijima Island. She had 9 children, and as of 2017, had over 160 descendants, including great-great-great-grandchildren. She currently lives in Kikai, Kagoshima. Tajima has claimed her secret to longevity is eating delicious things and sleeping well. She likes hand-dancing to music when the shamisen is played.
To read a birthday article in Japanese, click here.
Nabi Tajima at the age of 117. Photos courtesy of Takeo Inishie.
August 4, 2017; Jeanne Calment, the doyenne of humanity, died twenty years ago on August 4, 1997 at the age of 122 years, 164 days.
Jeanne Louise Calment was born in Arles, Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur, France on February 21, 1875 and died in the same place on August 4, 1997 at the phenomenal and unrivalled age of 122 years, 164 days. She became the oldest living person in France on June 20, 1986, following the death of Eugenie Roux. On July 18, 1987, she passed the final age of Eugenie Roux and became the oldest French person ever. On January 11, 1988, she became the oldest verified living person in the world, following the death of Florence Knapp. On May 12, 1990, she passed the final age of Augusta Holtz and became the oldest verified person ever. On October 17, 1995, she passed the then accepted final claimed age of the now disputed Shigechiyo Izumi and was recognised by Guinness as the oldest person ever. Calment was the first fully verified person to reach the ages of 116, 117, 118, 119, 120, 121 and 122. She was the last living verified person born in the 1870s and also outlived everyone born in 1881. In the two decades since her death, no one has come within three years of her final age and just one person has come within four and a half years.
Calment's reign as the World's Oldest Person lasted a record nine years and six months. Since 1964, no one else has held this title for three and a half years. She was a member of the top 10 oldest living people for a record 11 years, 195 days. No one else who entered the top ten in their supercentenarian years has lived for seven years among the top 10 oldest living people. Calment broke the record for longest confirmed lifespan by over seven years. Before Calment, the only person who had surpassed a former longest confirmed lifespan by more than one year was Delina Filkins, who passed away in 1928 after surpassing the then longest confirmed lifespan by just over two years.
Exceeding what scientists had long considered to be the absolute limit of human longevity, Calment establishes the record as the most-verified supercentenarian ever recorded. Beginning with the 1876 census in which Calment is listed as a one-year-old, she was indexed within sixteen census documents until 1975, and seven further documents were identified to corroborate her claim.
Calment was the daughter of a wealthy shipbuilder. She attended school between the ages of seven and sixteen, passing the Brevet in her final year. Calment learned piano from the age of seven and went to Marseilles for advanced lessons after discovering she had an aptitude for it. In about 1885, her father named one of his ships "La Jeanne" after his daughter. In 1888, at the age of 13, Calment met Vincent van Gogh when he visited her father's fabric shop to buy canvas. She described him as "dirty, badly dressed and disagreeable", and "very ugly, ungracious, impolite, sick." In 1896, at the age of 21, she married her double second cousin, Fernand Calment, a affluent store owner. Their only child, a daughter named Yvonne Calment, was born in 1898. Their wealth ensured Calment never had to work. Instead, she pursued an active and leisurely lifestyle incorporating hobbies such as tennis, cycling, swimming, mountain excursions, piano and opera.
After her daughter died from pneumonia in 1934 at the age of just 35, she raised her only grandchild, Frederic Billiot, who subsequently became a doctor. Her husband passed away in 1942 at the age of 73 after eating a dessert prepared with spoiled cherries. Her grandson died in an car accident in 1963 at the age of 36.
In 1965, aged 90 and with no heirs, Calment signed a deal to sell her apartment to lawyer Andre-Francois Raffray. Raffray, then aged 47, agreed to pay her 2,500 francs per month in return for ownership of the apartment upon her death. By the time Raffray died in 1995 at the age of 77, he had ended up paying Calment the equivalent of over $180,000 (more than double the value of the property) for an apartment he never got to live in. When asked about this deal in 1995, Calment commented "In life, one sometimes makes bad deals."
Calment remained in spectacular health for her age throughout her entire life. In 1960, at the age of 85, she took up fencing. She was still running and riding her bicycle at the age of 100. She continued to do gymnastics and play the piano until at least the age of 109. Calment lived independently until shortly before her 110th birthday, when she moved into a retirement home after a cooking accident started a small fire in her house. However, Calment was still in incredible shape, and continued to walk until she fractured her femur during a fall at age 114 years 11 months, which required surgery. In doing so, she became the oldest person ever to undergo and survive an operation. After her operation, Calment needed to use a wheelchair. A woman of very strong character, she refused to accept the timetables imposed upon her and succeeded in adapting the retirement home to her wishes. Calment smoked cigarettes from the ages of 21 to 117, although she was believed to consume no more than two cigarettes per day towards the end of her life.
In 1988, aged 113, Calment's international fame escalated when reporters descended upon Arles to commemorate the centenary of Vincent van Gogh's visit. Calment recalled selling coloured pencils to Van Gogh, and seeing the Eiffel Tower being built. At the age of 114, she played herself in the 1990 film Vincent and Me, becoming the oldest person ever to appear in a film. In 1992, at the age of 117, she conducted a two and a half hour interview with the lucidity of a healthy octogenarian. At the age of 118, a Mental Status Examination and CT Scan showed her performance on tests of verbal memory and language fluency to be comparable to that of persons with the same level of education in their 80's or 90's. On her 120th birthday in 1995, when asked about her vision of the future, she replied: "Very brief." 1995 also saw the release of Beyond 120 Years with Jeanne Calment, a documentary film about her life. In 1996, Time's Mistress, a four-track CD featuring Calment reminiscing over a background of rap and dance music, was released. On her 122nd birthday on February 21, 1997, it was announced that she would make no more public appearances, as her health had seriously deteriorated. Jean-Marie Robine, the French demographer and gerontologist who helped verify her age, said that this "allowed her to die, as the attention had kept her alive." Calment died on August 4, 1997, at 22:45 Central European Time. She remained mentally intact until her very end.
Calment ascribed her longevity and amazingly youthful appearance for her age to a diet rich in olive oil (which she also rubbed onto her skin) "All my life I've put olive oil on my skin and then just a puff of powder. I could never wear mascara, I cried too often when I laughed." Calment also recommended laughter as a recipe for longevity and joked that she had "never had but one wrinkle, and I'm sitting on it," and "God must have forgotten about me." She further credited her calmness, saying, "That's why they call me Calment." She once said "If you can't do anything about it, don't worry about it." She also recommended a diet of port wine, and ate nearly one kilogram of chocolate every week.
To read a memorial article in French, including rare photos featuring her place of death and a home where she once lived click here.
The house in which Jeanne Calment lived with her husband.
Jeanne Calment's tomb.
August 2, 2017; Honorine Rondello, verified by the Gerontology Research Group as the oldest person in France, celebrated her 114th birthday on July 28.
Originally from Paimpol in Brittany, Honorine Rondello quit school to help support her family after the death of her father in 1919, and started working as a hotel worker and taylor. She met her husband while working for a bourgeois family, and married in 1929. The couple had a daughter named Yvette.
Around 1941, Honorine moved to a Southeast French town called Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume because of the German and Italian occupation of the country. She also worked as a chef for an upper-middle class family and retired aged 73 in 1976. She became a widow in 1984. She moved into a nursing home following a fall in 2010.
Questioned by Sud-Ouest in September 2016, when she became the doyenne of France after the death of Elisabeth Collot, she said "I run around a little bit in the corridors, I eat and then I go back to my room," she told the daily. "I can not talk so much with other boarders, there are a lot of people who do not have their heads anymore."
To read a birthday article in French, click here.
Honorine Rondello at the age of 113.
July 31, 2017; The Gerontology Research Group is saddened to announce the passing of Mrs. Ellen Brandenborg (1906-2017), who died in Aarhus, Midtjylland, Denmark, on July 22, 2017 at the age of 111 years, 196 days.
Ellen Adelaide Rasmussen was born in Skorping, Nordjylland, Denmark, on January 7, 1906. Her father was a watchmaker. Later on, the family moved to Copenhagen. In 1929, Ellen Rasmussen migrated to Canada. There, she met her future husband, Carl Brandenborg, an engineer and a sailor, whom she married on June 15, 1930 in Montreal, Canada. The couple had four children. The family returned to Denmark in 1936 and settled in Brabrand. After the death of her husband in 1982, Ellen Brandenborg moved into an apartment in Kloeverparken. Her mother lived to the advanced age of 98 years and her oldest sister Ragnhild (1899-2002) to 102 years of age.
Ellen Brandenborg became the oldest living person in Denmark following the death of Signe Hojer (1905-2016) on Mar. 18, 2016, as well as the oldest living person in the Nordic countries after the death of Elisabet Ekenaes of Norway (1904-2017) on Jan. 4, 2017. She was also the oldest person to have ever died in Denmark, having broken the record of Anne Matthiesen (1884-1996).
To read an obituary article in Danish, click here.
Ellen Brandenborg at the age of 110, photographed by Niels Aage Skovbo (Kristeligt Dagblad).
July 28, 2017; Clarence "Larry" Matthews, believed to be the oldest living man in the United States, passed away in Indian Wells, Riverside County, California on July 22, 2017 at the age of 111. Matthews was born May 1, 1906, in Oakland, Alameda County, California, just a few days after the San Francisco earthquake. He became the oldest verified man in America on May 3, 2016 - two days after his 110th birthday.
Matthews was gifted with numbers and worked in credit management, then carpentry, and finally real estate, eventually becoming a shareholder in more than a dozen apartment buildings. He had lived at Indian Wells Country Club since 1972, where he was the first president of the Sandpiper Association. "He loved golf", said Steve Matthews, his son, "I think that's one of the reasons he lived so long. When he was 90 years old, we played golf at Indian Wells, at he shot 1 over par at 90. We had to buy drinks for everyone in the bar." he recalled, chuckling. "He still looked like he was 60 or 65."
"He loved the fact he was the oldest man in the United States," his friend Larry Bonafide said. "He was very proud of that."
To read an obituary article, including some comments from GRG Director Robert Young, click here.
July 21, 2017; The Gerontology Research Group is saddened to announce the passing of Mrs. Jadwiga Szubartowicz (1905-2017) of Lublin, who has been the oldest living person in Poland since the death of Jadwiga Mlynek (1905-2015) on August 1, 2015. She was also the second oldest person in the history of Poland, as determined by the GRG-endorsed Najstarsi Polacy website. Szubartowicz died on July 20, 2017, aged 111 years, 277 days.
Jadwiga Szubartowicz was born in Lublin on October 16, 1905. As a child, she lived in Saint Petersburg. There she witnessed the 1917 Russian revolution during which her father died. Along with the rest of her family, she returned to Poland. There she graduated from the Ursuline sisters' gymnasium. Together with her sister, she completed five years of pedagogical studies and worked as an accountant in her adult life. She survived World War II in Lublin and remembered saving the famous Jan Matejko painting "Battle of Grunwald" from the Nazi occupants. Sadly, her brother was arrested in Krakow by Nazis and killed in the Buchenwald concentration camp. After the war, Jadwiga married Antoni Szubartowicz who was a veteran of the battle of Monte Cassino. The couple didn't have children and they remained married for 50 years.
On the day of her 110th birthday, Mrs. Szubartowicz gave her message to the world: "The life of a man on the Earth is neither easy nor light. One needs to educate, expand horizons and improve constantly. And, with the help of the God, search for good, beauty and truth. Break and vanquish the evil. That has always been my recipe for life."
As supercentenarian, she received many honours, including the Honorary Citizenship of Lublin and the medal of 700th Anniversary of Lublin.
Report by Waclaw Jan Kroczek, GRG correspondent for Poland.
To read an obituary article in Polish, click here.
Jadwiga Szubartowicz and Waclaw Jan Kroczek during a meeting on June 18, 2016.
July 21, 2017; Marie-Josephine Gaudette, recognised by the Gerontology Research Group as the oldest verified nun ever recorded, passed away in Rome, Lazio, Italy on July 13, 2017, at the age of 115 years, 110 days. At the time of her death, Gaudette was the oldest living American citizen and the oldest living Italian resident. She was also the second oldest living person in Europe and the oldest person ever born in the US state of New Hampshire.
Born in Manchester, New Hampshire, United States on March 25, 1902, Gaudette became a nun at a young age and later taught art and music in Canada and France. In 1958, she settled in a convent in Rome, Italy, where she was known as Sister Cecilia.
In 2008, aged 106, Gaudette voted for Barack Obama in the US presidential election. At the time, she was hard of hearing but lucid, keeping herself informed by reading newspapers and watching TV at her convent. In 2013 she appeared briefly in the Hunter Weeks film Walter: Lessons from the World's Oldest People.
Marie-Josephine Gaudette was validated with documents provided by the Paolo Scarabaggio, GRG correspondent for Italy.
To read an obituary article in full, click here.
June 23, 2017; Virginia Moyano, recognised by the Gerontology Research Group as the oldest verified person ever from Argentina, passed away in La Rioja, Argentina on June 20, 2017, at the age of 113 years, 34 days.
Born as Secundina Virginia Moyano Ponce on 17 May 1904, she was the sixth of eight children born to Jose Moyano and Casimira Ponce.
At the age of 108, Moyano moved into the San Jose Nursing Home with her niece, Maria Olga Gallo Moyano. When asked for the secret to her longevity, she said "remembering beautiful memories that make you laugh". She never married and has no children, but has a large number of nephews and nieces. At the age of 112, she still ate pies, pizza, eggs and gelatin.
Virginia Moyano was validated with documents provided by the Nicolas Ruiz Moreno, GRG correspondent for Argentina.
To read an obituary article in full, click here.
June 23, 2017; Bienvenida Vergara Jaen de Cano, recognised by the Gerontology Research Group as the oldest verified person ever from Panama, passed away in Las Tablas, Panama on June 6, 2017, at the age of 113 years, 61 days.
Born in Las Tablas, she was the first of 12 children born to Silverio Vergara and Francisca Jaen de Vergara. She married Elias Cano in 1922 and had two daughters. At the age of 108, she still had a living brother, Hipolito.
To read an obituary article, click here.
April 15, 2017; The Gerontology Research Group would like to honor the life of Emma Martina Luigia Morano, of Verbania, Italy, who passed away at the age of 117 on Saturday afternoon, April 15, 2017, at about 4:40pm local time sitting up in her chair. Born on November 29, 1899, Emma was the last known verified person to be born in the 19th century, so her life spanned three centuries. In May 2016, Emma Morano was recognized by Guinness World Records for having the titles of Oldest Living Person and Oldest Living Woman.
Raised in Vercelli, Italy, the oldest of eight siblings, Emma Morano later moved to Verbania on the shores of Lake Maggiore, Italy where she remained for the majority of her life. Emma was engaged to a man who was called to the front during the First World War. Devastatingly, she never saw him again and assumed he had died. She married Giovanni Martinuzzi in 1926. She gave birth to her only child in 1937, who died at 6 months old. She separated from Martinuzzi the next year, but never divorced him. She worked in a jute factory and at a boarding school kitchen. She retired at 75, more than 40 years ago.
Longevity seems to run in Morano's family: Her mother lived to 91, and some of her sisters made it to a century. But it was the peculiar diet she began after World War I that Morano says helped her become one of the oldest people ever. When she was a teenager, a doctor suggested that Morano eat raw eggs to combat her anemia. She followed a stringent diet of two raw eggs, one cooked egg, a little minced meat and pasta for the past 90 years. As a supercentenarian who lived in her apartment being taken care of by caregivers, she enjoyed a steady stream of visitors, including when she was recognized as the oldest person in the world. Several Gerontology Research Group correspondents had the honor of getting to meet and know Emma Morano during her amazing life!
March 24, 2017; Born Luzia Morhs in Pommern, Germany on March 23, 1904, Sister Maria Electis celebrated her 113th birthday in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. Surrounded by love and affection, she enjoys a serene lifestyle. She emigrated to Brazil in 1939 and has resided there ever since. Described as a woman of strong spirit, she has been the oldest verified living person in South America since the death of 113 year old Alida Rudge on December 23, 2016. Sister Electis is also the oldest living German person in the world and the first immigrant case validated in Brazil.
She was validated due to international cooperation between Ricardo Pereira Lago, GRG-Correspondent for Brazil and Stefan Jamin, GRG-Correspondent for Germany.
March 4, 2017; FOX43 reports that Pennsylvania Department of Aging Secretary Teresa Osborne visited Huntingdon County resident Delphine Gibson, who is 113 years old. The Gerontology Research Group, which validates longevity and tracks supercentenarians, verified that as of February 28, 2017, Ms. Gibson is the oldest American resident.
Ms. Gibson was born in South Carolina on August 17, 1903, and following her marriage to Taylor Gibson in 1928, they moved to Pennsylvania where they raised their three children, Frank, Moody, and Ella.
"She credits her longevity to her faith in God, church, and church family," said Kammi Plummer, director of admissions and community outreach at AristaCare. "She loves singing gospel, eating good Southern food, and taking naps. She's a delight to everyone she meets. We are truly blessed to have her with us."
To read the article, click here.
February 8, 2017; The Gerontology Research Group has been mentioned in an article in The Brussels Times on the oldest living Belgian.
Fernande De Raeve (aged 110) is now the eldest living Belgian.
This comes after the death yesterday (Tuesday) of Alicia Van den Berghe-Corveleyn, aged 112. It emerges from statistics from the Belgian department of the Gerontology Research Group.
To read the article, click here.
February 8, 2017; The Gerontology Research Group has been mentioned in an obituary of Meta Dishman, a 113 year old woman from Virginia.
Born Meta Holmes on June 1, 1903, Dishman grew up with 10 siblings and formed a deep connection with the rural community where she lived. She became a deaconess at First Mount Olive Baptist Church in Newtown later in life and tended the church grounds.
Dishman worked in Washington, D.C., and Boston, Mass., during her adulthood, but returned often to visit her relatives and congregation until she permanently moved to Virginia in the late 1980s.
Dishman, described as compassionate, adventurous and fiercely independent, died on Jan. 20 in Tappahannock. She was 113 years and 233 days old, making her the second-oldest validated living American resident and the oldest African-American woman in the U.S. at the time.
To read the article, click here.