Besse Cooper

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Besse Cooper
Born Besse Berry Brown
August 26, 1896
Sullivan County, Tennessee
Died December 4, 2012[1]
(aged 116 years, 100 days)
Monroe, Georgia
Nationality American
Education East Tennessee State Normal School
Occupation teacher
Known for Oldest living person in the world from June 2011 until her death, and last known living person born in 1896
Spouse Luther Harris Cooper
(1895–1963)
(m. 1924–w. 1963)
Parents Richard Brown and Angeline Berry
Relatives 4 children, 11 grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren, 2 great-great-grandchildren

Besse Berry Cooper (August 26, 1896 – December 4, 2012) was an American woman who was verified by the Guinness World Records as the oldest person in the world from the death of Brazilian woman Maria Gomes Valentim on June 21, 2011 until her death on December 4, 2012. She was previously thought to have held the title of the world's oldest living person from the death of Eunice Sanborn on January 31 until May 18, 2011, when Valentim was verified by the Guinness World Records. She is one of three people to have regained the status of world's oldest living person, with the other two being Jeanne Calment and Elizabeth Bolden. Cooper was also the last living person in the world to have been born in the year 1896, as well as the oldest person ever born in that year.

Personal life[change | edit source]

Besse Cooper was born as Besse Berry Brown in Sullivan County in Tennessee on August 26, 1896. She was the third of eight children of Richard Brown and Angeline Berry. She graduated from East Tennessee State Normal School (now East Tennessee State University) in 1916 and worked as a school teacher until the time of America's entrance to World War I in 1917, when she moved to Georgia. She taught in the Walton County town of Between until 1929. She was married to Luther Cooper from 1924 until his death in 1963 and had four children with him, whose names are Angeline, Luther Jr., Sidney and Nancy.

In her final years, Cooper lived in a nursing home in Monroe, Georgia. She had all four of her children, 11 grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren and 2 great-great grandchildren.[2] In August 2012, a bridge in Between was named the "Besse Brown Cooper Bridge" in her honour.[3]

Longevity records[change | edit source]

  • November 8, 2006 – Besse Cooper, aged 110 years, 74 days, was entered in the Gerontology Research Group's list for Guinness World Records.
  • January 19, 2009 – Beatrice Farve died. Cooper, aged 112 years, 146 days, became the oldest living person in the U.S. state of Georgia.
  • November 19, 2009 – Chiyo Shiraishi died. Cooper, aged 113 years, 88 days, became one of the 10 oldest living people in the world.
  • January 31, 2011 – Eunice Sanborn died. Cooper, aged 114 years, 158 days, became the oldest living person in the United States of America. She was thought to have been the oldest person in the world until May 18, 2011.
  • April 14, 2011 – Walter Breuning died. Cooper, aged 114 years, 231 days, became the last American born in 1896.
  • May 18, 2011 – Maria Gomes Valentim is verified by the Guinness World Records as the world's oldest living person.
  • June 21, 2011 – Maria Gomes Valentim died. Cooper, aged 114 years, 299 days, regained the title of world's oldest living person.
  • August 26, 2011 – Cooper became the 25th verified person to reach the age of 115 and the first person to do so since Gertrude Baines, who turned 115 in April 2009.
  • November 14, 2011 – Cooper, aged 115 years, 80 days, lived to be older than Augusta Holtz, becoming one of the 20 oldest people ever.
  • December 2, 2011 – Chiyono Hasegawa died. Cooper, aged 115 years, 98 days, became the last known living person born in 1896.
  • December 13, 2011 – Cooper, aged 115 years, 109 days, lived to be older than Susie Gibson, becoming one of the ten oldest Americans ever.
  • January 30, 2012 – Cooper, aged 115 years, 157 days, lived to be older than Emiliano Mercado del Toro, becoming one of the 15 oldest people ever.
  • April 3, 2012 – Cooper, aged 115 years, 221 days, lived to be older than Edna Parker, becoming one of the 10 oldest women ever and the oldest living person since Elizabeth Bolden died on December 11, 2006.
  • April 11, 2012 – Cooper, aged 115 years, 229 days, lived to be older than Charlotte Hughes, becoming one of the 10 oldest verified people.
  • August 26, 2012 – Cooper became the eighth verified person to reach the age 116, and the first to do so since Elizabeth Bolden, who celebrated her 116th birthday on August 15, 2006.
  • December 4, 2012 – Cooper died at the age of 116 years, 100 days, leaving Italian-American woman, Dina Manfredini, to become the oldest person in the world.

References[change | edit source]

Preceded by
Maria Gomes Valentim
Oldest recognized living person
June 21, 2011 – December 4, 2012
Succeeded by
Dina Manfredini