December 29, 2008 / 11:03 PM / 10 years ago

Oldest U.S. man dies in California at 112

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - After a life that touched three centuries, the oldest man in the United States has died in California at the age of 112, the Sacramento Bee newspaper reported on Monday.

George Rene Francis, who was listed as America’s oldest man by the Gerontology Research Group in Los Angeles, died of congestive heart failure on Saturday at a nursing home in Sacramento, the newspaper said in a story on its Web site.

The Bee reported that Francis, a black man who was born in New Orleans on June 6, 1896 and grew up in the South, told the newspaper in a recent interview that he had voted with pride for Barack Obama in the November presidential election. Obama will be the first black U.S. president when he takes office on January 20.

“I think he’s great because he’s black,” Francis told the Bee. “Because the white people thought the Negro would never be promoted. I think it’s beautiful.”

Francis, who left school after sixth grade and briefly had a career as a boxer, moved to California in 1949 and found work as a chauffeur, auto mechanic and barber.

His wife, Josephine, died in 1963 after 46 years of marriage.

The Bee reported that Francis was survived by four children, 19 grandchildren and more than 30 great-grandchildren.

With the death of Francis, Montana resident Walter Breuning becomes the country’s oldest man at 112 years and 98 days old. America’s oldest woman is 114-year-old Gertrude Baines of Los Angeles.

The oldest living person is 115-year-old Maria de Jesus of Portugal, who was born on September 10, 1893, according to the Gerontology Research Group.

Reporting by Jennifer Martinez; Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Sandra Maler

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