World's Oldest Person Turns 116
In honor of Besse Cooper's accomplishment, a bridge was named after her in her town of Monroe, Ga.
Besse Cooper continues to flip heads.
About seven in 1,000 people live to be a centenarian, or someone who is at least 100 years old, according to an estimate in the academic journal Science.
You have a 50 percent chance for every year beyond that, and living from 100 to 110 "is like tossing heads 10 times in a row,” James Vaupel, director of the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, told Science.
For Cooper, a 16th heads just fell flat on the table.
The retired teacher and oldest woman in the world celebrated her 116th birthday on Sunday. Patch talked with her son, Sidney, just before her 115th birthday last summer, and he detailed her remembering traveling on a houseboat built by her uncle and father, helping women vote for the first time, reading about the Titanic sinking in a newspaper, and farmers celebrating the turn of the 20th century by blowing up dynamite.
In honor of longevity, officials in Monroe, Ga., where Cooper lives, named a bridge after her, the Huffington Post reports.
Cooper was first recognized as the world's oldest living person by Guinness World Records in January 2011, but had to give up the title a few months later when officials discovered that Brazilian-born Maria Gomes Valentim was 48 days older.
Valentim died on June 21, 2011, and Cooper was reinstated and has held that title ever since. She is one of only eight people and four Americans confirmed to have lived at least 116 years.
Born on Aug. 26, 1896 in Tennessee, Cooper married her husband, Luther, in 1924, and they had four children. Today, she has 12 grandchildren and more than a dozen great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren.
Keys to her longevity include tending to her big garden and being outdoors, Sidney told Patch. To keep her mind active, she did crossword puzzles and read a lot—activities that have went to the wayside because of poor vision, he added.
Talking to the Huffington Post, Cooper added two more secrets to a long life: "I mind my own business. And I don't eat junk food."
Read more: Will You Live for 100 Years?