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

The world’s oldest person and Georgia resident Besse Cooper died Tuesday afternoon. She was 116 years and 100 days old.

Cooper died after contracting a stomach virus over the weekend, according to her son, Sidney Cooper. Sidney Cooper said his mother felt better Monday but had trouble breathing Tuesday and was placed on oxygen at her Walton County nursing home.

Besse Cooper died peacefully around 2 p.m.

When she turned 116 in August, a bridge was named in her honor in Monroe. Besse Cooper wasn’t able to attend the dedication, but smiled when told of the honor, her family said.

She was born Aug. 26, 1896, in Tennessee, but moved to Walton County during World War I to teach because teachers in Georgia made more money, her son previously told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. She married her husband Luther in 1924 and stopped teaching school when she had her first child at age 33. Luther Cooper died in 1963.

In a 2011 interview with the AJC, Cooper’s family credited her lifestyle and genes for her longevity.

“I mind my own business and I don’t eat junk food,” she said at her 113th birthday celebration.

Dina Manfredini, 115, of Iowa, now becomes the world's oldest person, according to The Los Angeles Gerontology Research group.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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