A Fascinating Look at the Oldest People to Have Ever Lived

By Robin Mei - March 06, 2019


Ann Pouder, 110

Ann Pouder was one of the first documented supercentenarians in modern history. She was born in England in 1807. At the age of 12, she emigrated to the United States with her family and spent her life living in Baltimore, Maryland.

Pouder was married once, but became a widow early and had no children. At the time of her death on July 10, 1917, she was confined to bed, almost deaf and blind, but still sharp-minded when she passed at the age of 110.

Source: Ann Pouder

Zhou Youguang, 111

Zhou Youguang is not only known as a Chinese supercentenarian who reached the age of 111, but he was also a reputable economist and celebrated linguist in his home country.

Often referred to as the “Father of Pinyin,” Mr. Youguang was the man who simplified the Chinese language and introduced the Pinyin system of romanization (a phonetic alphabet) which was officially adopted by the Chinese government in 1958. He died on 14 January 2017, only a day after turning 111.

Source: Zhou Youguang

Shivakumara Swami, 111

Shivakumara Swami was an Indian supercentenarian who passed away on January 21, 2019. He was 111 years old, but it’s not only his age that made this man well-known and highly respected.

Swami was a distinguished Lingayat seer who was perceived as a “walking god” among many of his followers. He was also a great humanitarian, educator and the founder of the Sri Siddaganga Education Society. In 2015, Swami was awarded the Padma Bhushan, India’s third highest civilian award.

Source: Shivakumara Swami: All you need to know about the walking god

Aarne Arvonen, 111

A supercentenarian who died at the age of 111, Aarne Armas “Arska” Arvonen was the oldest recorded man in Finland of all time. He was born at the end of the 19th century, in 1897, when his home country was still a part of the Russian Empire.

During his long life, Arvonen was passionate about two things: Smoking cigarettes and studying astronomy. He was a founding member of Ursa, the Finnish amateur astronomy association. His membership lasted almost 87 years.

Source: Aarne Arvonen

Harry Patch, 111

The last surviving Tommy, as the Brits used to call their common soldiers, Harry Patch died at the age of 111 on July 25, 2009. He was only 18 when he was recruited into the army in 1916 and spent the better part of the First World War fighting in the trenches.

Mr. Patch lived not only to see the end of the war but the end of the  20th century. His memories of the Great War were published in the book “The Last Fighting Tommy.”

Source: Harry Patch in profile

Edelgard Huber von Gersdorff, 112

Born in 1905, in Thuringia, Germany, Edelgard Huber von Gersdorff witnessed firsthand the time of the Empire and the Weimar Republic, the rise and fall of the Nazis, the Federal Republic and the reunification of Germany. She passed away on April 9, 2018, at the age of 112.  She was the oldest person in Germany at the time.

Edelgard was a strong, high-spirited person who survived polio in her early teens, worked out with weights even after she turned 100, and read out loud every single.

Source: List of German supercentenarians

Richard Overton, 112

Richard Arvin Overton was the oldest American World War II veteran and the third-oldest man in the world at the time of his death in 2018. He was 112 years of age.

During his lifetime, Mr. Overton witnessed an era of racial segregation finally come to an end and would eventually go on to meet the first African-American president of the United States. He loved whiskey and good cigars. Reportedly, he smoked more than dozen a day, but never really inhaled them.

Source: America’s oldest veteran, known for smoking cigars and drinking whiskey, dies at age 112

Alphaeus Philemon Cole, 112

Alphaeus Philemon Cole was an American artist, etcher and engraver, who also happened to be the oldest living man on Earth before he passed away in 1988. At the time of his death Mr. Cole was 112.

His legacy includes a series of portraits, still life paintings and illustrations. Many of his works are now part of the permanent collections of the Brooklyn Museum and London’s National Portrait Gallery. He continued painting until he was 103.

Source: Alphaeus Philemon Cole

Yisrael Kristal, 113

Yisrael Kristal was only a month away from turning 114 years of age when he died on August 11, 2017. He was a Polish-born Jew and Auschwitz survivor, the only one from his entire family.

But his age (besides the fact that he survived the Holocaust) is not the only thing that made him famous. In 2016, Mr. Kristal made headlines after finally celebrating his bar mitzvah about a century late, a result of the timing of World War 1.

Source: World’s oldest man, Auschwitz survivor Yisrael Kristal dies

John Ingram McMorran, 113

John Ingram McMorran was an American farmer and truck driver who lived long enough to become one of the world’s rare supercentenarians, which means he reached the age of 110. At the time of his death in 2003, Mr. McMorran was 113 years, 250 days old.

Thumbing his nose at clean living guidelines, McMorran didn’t care much about a healthy lifestyle — he was smoking, drinking and eating greasy food most of his life and yet he managed to outlive everyone around him.

Source: 10 Oldest Men in the World

Fred Hale Sr., 113

Fred Hale, Sr. was quite a celebrity among sports fans in the United States. He was not only famous for being the oldest man in the U.S. at the time, but he was the oldest Boston Red Sox fan in the world.

A month before his passing in 2004, his favorite baseball team returned to championship form and finally won the World Series again after 86 years. Mr. Hale died on November 19, only 12 days before his 114th birthday.

Source: 10 Oldest Men in the World

Moses Hardy, 113

Moses Hardy was born in Mississippi in 1893. A son of ex-slaves, Moses lived a modest, religious life on a farm before signing up to go overseas and serve in the army during World War I.

At the time of his death in 2006, Mr. Hardy was the last black veteran of the Great War. He passed away at the age of 113 and at the time was the oldest man in the States and the second-oldest man in the world.

Source: Moses Hardy

Masazo Nonaka, 113

Masazo Nonaka was officially the oldest man in the world from April 10, 2018, until his passing on January 20, 2019. He was 113 years, 179 days old.

Born in 1905, Mr. Nonaka spent his life in the town of Ashoro. He worked as a hotelier since 1925 in his family’s inn that is now run by his granddaughter. When asked about his longevity, he claimed that soaking in the hot springs at the hotel and eating sweets kept him going.

Source: World’s oldest man, Masazo Nonaka, dies at his home in Japan aged 113

Henry Allingham, 113

Henry Allingham was one of a few World War One British soldiers who lived long enough to see the 21st century. When the Great War broke out in 1914, Henry was 18. The following year he signed up for the army.

As a member of the Royal Naval Air Service, he fought on the Western Front and survived the Battle of Jutland. At the time of his death, Mr. Allingham was 113. He was the last surviving member of the RNAS.

Source: Henry Allingham, British first world war veteran, dies at 113

Yukichi Chuganji, 114

Yukichi Chuganji was born on March 23, 1889. At the time of his passing, on September 28, 2003, he was the oldest man in the world at the age 114.

During his astonishingly long and (apparently) well-lived life, Mr. Chuganji spent most of his time working as a silkworm breeder who preferred milk over alcohol and was a big fan of eating beef, pork, rice and miso soup. Maybe that was the secret of his longevity.

Source: Yukichi Chuganji

Tomoji Tanabe, 114

Tomoji Tanabe was 111 years old when he was officially certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s oldest man in 2006. Tanabe was born on September 18, 1895, in Miyakonojo, a city on Kyushu island, where he spent most of his life working as city land surveyor.

When he died in 2009, he left behind 8 children, 25 grandchildren, 53 great-grandchildren and 6 great-great-grandchildren. Quite a legacy, wouldn’t you agree?

Source: Tomoji Tanabe Obituary

Joan Riudavets, 114

Joan Riudavets was born on December 15, 1889. At the time of his passing, he was 114 years old, which officially made him  the oldest man to have ever lived in Spain.

The secret of his longevity was leading an active life. A shoemaker by trade, Mr. Riudavets was also a passionate recreational sportsman. He rode his bicycle regularly, enjoyed long walks, played soccer and spent lots of time with friends. He also slept at least 12 hours a night.

Source: 10 Oldest Men in the World

Venere Pizzinato, 114

At the time of her death, Venere Pizzinato was also the oldest European woman and at the age of 114 she became the third-oldest person in the world at the time.

Venere was born in 1896 in the Italian province of Trentino, and she and her family lived in several Italian cities until the outbreak of World War Two. In an attempt to escape from Italy’s fascist regime she moved to France but returned to her home country once the war was over.

Source: Europe’s oldest person dies in Italy at 114

Walter Breuning, 114

An American supercentenarian, Walter Breuning was verified as the oldest living man in the world for almost two years before he passed in 2011, at the age of 114.

Born in Minnesota, he spent the first part of his life living in a few different states working for the Great Northern Railway. After retiring at the age of 66, Mr. Breuning took a position as the manager of the local Shriners Club where he served until he turned 99.

Source: 10 Oldest Men in the World

Marie-Josephine Clarice Gaudette, 115

Marie-Josephine Clarice Gaudette was born in Manchester, New Hampshire, in 1902. She died in 2017, as Mother Cecilia at a convent in Rome, Italy, where she had lived since 1958. Before settling in Italy, she lived in the States, Canada and France.

At the time of her death, this 115-year-old nun was the oldest person born in America, the oldest person living in Italy, the second-oldest in Europe and the fifth oldest in the world.

Source: Marie Josephine Gaudette

Emiliano Mercado del Toro, 115

Emiliano Mercado del Toro spent most of his life working in Peurto Rico’s sugar cane fields. He was 81 years old when he finally retired, living another 34 happy years before he passed away in 2007.

This “old-timer” was 115 years, 156 days old on the day he died. For a few weeks before that, he was the oldest living person in the entire world. Del Toro never married and didn’t have children.

Source: 10 Oldest Men in the World

Christian Mortensen, 115

Danish-born American Christian Mortensen was 115 when he died in 1998, but his verified record of being the oldest man in the world stood unbroken until 2012.

Mr. Mortensen was born in 1882. At the age of 21, he emigrated to America and spent his life moving around the States, working all sorts of jobs. He was a tailor, factory worker, milkman and restaurateur, but his true passion was life itself . He had a rich social life and enjoyed smoking good cigars.

Source: 10 Oldest Men in the World

Hendrikje van Andel Schipper, 115

Hendrikje van Andel-Schipper was a 115-year-old Dutch supercentenarian (and the oldest person in the history of her home country) who became globally famous after her death, a result of her donating her body to science to help researchers learn the secret of her longevity.

Their initial findings suggested that the human lifespan depends largely on the capacity of our stem cells to keep renewing tissues day after day, and it seems that Mrs. Andel-Schipper’s were simply impeccable.

Source: Blood of world’s oldest woman hints at limits of life

Marie Brémont, 115

Marie Lemaitre Brémont was a French supercentenarian born in 1886. At the time of her death on June 6, 2001, she was acknowledged as the oldest person in the world and lived in three different centuries.

Mrs. Brémont spent her entire life in France, working as a farmer, a pharmaceutical factory employee, a dressmaker and a nanny. She was married twice but had no children. At the age of 103, she survived a car accident and lived for another 12 happy years.

Source: Marie Brémont

Bernice Madigan, 115

Bernice Madigan was an American supercentenarian who lived for over 115 years. She was officially the oldest living citizen of the state of Massachusetts, the fourth-oldest living person in the States, and the fifth-oldest in the world before passing away at the start of 2015.

According to the Boston Globe, Bernice confessed to her friends that her secret to longevity was simple: “No children, no stress, and a daily spoonful of honey.”

Source: One of world’s oldest, Bernice Madigan dies in W. Mass.

Jiroemon Kimura, 116

Credits: Image: ODN News

Jiroemon Kimura was at op the oldest verified man in history. Before passing away in 2013 at the age of 116, he was the last living man who was born in the 19th century.

Mr. Kimura spent most of his life working in the local post office. After retiring, he became a farmer and continued to work with his son on their family farm until he was 90.

Reportedly, the secret to his longevity was “eating light to live long,” and keep being active for as long as possible.

Source: Oldest man in history Jiroemon Kimura dies at 116

Giuseppina Projetto, 116

Often referred to as “the grandmother of Italy” by her own countrymen, Giuseppina Projetto was a Sardinia-born supercentenarian who reached the age of 116. Her matrilineal grandfather had migrated from Sicily during Italian general Giuseppe Garibaldi’s Expedition of the Thousand.

At the time of her passing on July 6, 2018, Projetto was the oldest living person born in Italy and the second-longest-lived Italian ever. She was also the oldest European from 2017 until her passing.

Source: List of Italian supercentenarians

Jeralean Talley, 116

Jeralean Talley was born in 1899, in Georgia, but she moved to Michigan in the 1930s, where she married Alfred Talley and started a family. The fifth generation of her family lives in the metro Detroit area, including her great-great-grandson.

Mrs. Talley was 116 years of age when she passed away as the world’s verified oldest living person. She was a deeply religious woman and a devoted member of the New Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church in Inkster.

Source: Jeralean Talley: World’s oldest person dies at 116

Besse Cooper, 116

Besse Cooper was 116 years, 100 days old when she died. She was the world’s oldest person at the time and one of only a handful of supercentenarians who has ever reached that age. Her life motto and apparently the recipe for her longevity was minding her own business and avoiding junk food.

On her 116th birthday in 2012 a bridge in the town of Between, Georgia, where she worked as a teacher, was named after her.

Source: World’s oldest person, Besse Cooper, dies at 116

Elizabeth Bolden, 116

Elizabeth “Lizzie” Jones Bolden was born in 1890 in Somerville, Tennessee, as the daughter of freed slaves. She got married at the age of 18 and gave birth to her first of seven children in 1909.

When she died in 2006, at the age of 116, she left behind 40 grandchildren, 75 great-grandchildren, 150 great-great-grandchildren, 220 great-great-great-grandchildren and 75 great-great-great-great grandchildren.

Source: Elizabeth “Lizzie” Jones Bolden

Gertrude Weaver, 116

Gertrude Weaver was officially the oldest living person for less than a week before she passed away on April 6, 2015. The records show she was 116 years of age when she died.

Gertrude was born on July 4th, 1898, in the state of Arkansas near the Texas border, where she spent most of her life working as a domestic helper. She believed in kindness and compassion and claimed that the secret of her long life was treating people fairly.

Source: Woman dies at 116 after six days as world’s oldest person

María Capovilla, 116

María Esther Heredia Lecaro de Capovilla was an Ecuadorian supercentenarian who reached the age of 116. When she was 100 years old she was given last rites due to a stomach illness but managed to recover and live long enough to become the oldest person on Earth in 2006.

Until the end of 2005, María was in good health. She read the paper regularly, watched TV and even walked around her home without the aid of a cane. She died the following year, on August 27.

Source: The World’s Oldest Person 2006

Susannah Mushatt Jones, 116

Susannah “Miss Susie” Mushatt Jones was the oldest living person in the world and the last living American born in the 19th century at the time of her passing in 2016. She was 116 years, 311 days.

Miss Susie dedicated her life to children, even though she didn’t have any of her own. Born and raised in Alabama, she moved to New York to become a teacher but ended up looking after the children of wealthy families whom she treated as her own.

Source: Meet the New World’s Oldest Person

Emma Morano, 117

Emma Morano was one of five oldest people in recorded history. She was 117 years, 137 days old when she passed away in Italy on April 15, 2017.

She credited her longevity to two things: The first was leaving her abusive husband back in 1938 and the other was her diet. She would eat two raw eggs every morning, one egg omelet at noon and a little bit of meat for dinner throughout her entire life.

Source: Emma Morano, world’s oldest person, dies aged 117

Violet Brown, 117

Violet Mosse Brown was the first person born in Jamaica to be verified as a supercentenarian and the oldest living person in the world for five months. She passed away on September 15, 2017, at the age of 117 years, 189 days.

Aunt V, as people used to call her, spent her entire life in Duanvale, Trelawny, the same town she was born. She was the mother of six, four of whom were still living at the time of her death.

Source: Jamaican Violet Brown, 117, Named Oldest Person in the World

Marie-Louise Meilleur, 117

Marie-Louise Meilleur was a French Canadian supercentenarian who reached the age of 117. She was officially recognized by Guinness World Records as the oldest living person in the world at the time, and the oldest validated Canadian ever.

Marie-Louise was born in Kamouraska, Quebec, in 1880, where she lived until 1913. After the death of her first husband, she moved to Ontario where she spent the rest of her life. She was a vegetarian, but also had a fondness for smoking.

Source: Marie-Louise Fébronie Chassé Leclerc Meilleur

Sarah Knauss, 119

Sarah DeRemer Clark Knauss officially became the oldest person in the world on April 16, 1998, a year before her passing. She was also the second-oldest documented person in history, reaching the age of 119.

Knauss was born on September 24, 1880, in a small coal-mining town in Pennsylvania and spent her whole life in the same state. She was married once and had one child, a daughter named Kathryn, who also lived for over one hundred years.

Source: World’s oldest person misses millennium

Jeanne Calment, 122

Jeanne Louise Calment was 122 years, 164 days old when she passed away in 1997, which at the time made her the oldest person to have ever lived. Born on February 21, 1875, in Arles, France, she married Fernand Nicolas Calment and gave birth to a daughter named Yvonne who died in 1934.

There is some intrigue to this story: Some suspect that it was actually Jeanne who died that year, and that her daughter took over her identity. The allegations have never been proven.

Source: Was the World’s Oldest Person Ever Actually Her 99-Year-Old Daughter?

Koku Istambulova, 129

Koku Istambulova died on January 27, 2019, and was reportedly 129 years, 240 days old when she passed away. Her age has not been officially verified.

Istambulova lived in the Russian Republic of Chechnya since the deportation of the Chechens from Kazakhstan in 1944 under the regime of Joseph Stalin. Her long life was hard and troublesome, without much happiness in it. The only day she recalled as a joyful one was when she finished her own little house she built herself.

Source: Russian Woman, Who Claims To Be World’s Oldest At 129, Says She’s Had One Happy Day In Her Life

Mbah Gotho, 146

Mbah Gotho was an unverified Indonesian supercentenarian who claimed that he was born in 1870. If that turns out to be true, it would me he died in 2017 at the age of 146. Unfortunately, Indonesia did not start recording the births of its citizens until 1900.

Reportedly, Mr. Ghoto has outlived all of his family, including his siblings, four wives and his children. He was expecting his own passing since 1992 and even prepared his own grave while he lived out his final years.

Source: World’s oldest man dies in Indonesia ‘aged 146’