World's oldest person celebrates 116th birthday in New York City

Mon Jul 6, 2015 3:36pm EDT
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By Sebastien Malo

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The world's oldest living person, the daughter of sharecroppers and granddaughter of slaves, celebrated her 116th birthday on Monday in New York.

Susannah Mushatt Jones marked the occasion privately with family but a public celebration is planned for Tuesday, according to the Gerontology Research Group.

Jones was born in Alabama in 1899 and after graduating from high school moved north in 1922 to New Jersey and then New York, where she worked as a housekeeper and childcare provider, according to the Guinness World Records and the Vandalia Senior Center in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, where she lives.

Jones, who retired in 1965, says lots of sleep is the secret to her longevity, Guinness said in confirming her status as the oldest living person. She also said she never smoked or drank, according to Senior Center officials.

Jones has lost her eyesight and has difficulties hearing, said Robert Young, director of the Los Angeles-based Gerontology Research Group's Supercentenarian Research and Database Division.

She was the third of 11 children born to sharecroppers, and her grandparents were slaves, according to a book written about her by a family member, Young said.

The book, "Susannah Our Incredible 114-Year-Old Aunt," said she is mostly African-American with some Native American ancestry, he said.

She never had children but has more than 100 nieces and nephews.   Continued...

Susannah Mushatt Jones is pictured with a certificate from Guinness World Records proclaiming her as the world's oldest woman in New York in this July 3, 2015 handout photo obtained by Reuters July 6, 2015.  REUTERS/Philip Robertson/Guinness World Records/Handout via Reuters