NEW YORK: She was a teenager during World War I and her life spans three centuries. On Monday, New Yorker Susannah Mushatt Jones celebrated her 116th birthday as the world’s oldest living person.
Guinness World Records announced the occasion and released photographs of Jones, dressed smartly in a white jacket, black dress and matching hat, being presented with a framed certificate.
The former live-in housekeeper, known as “T” to her 100 nieces and nephews, was born on July 6, 1899. She became the record holder at the age of 115 years and 346 days as of June 17, Guinness said.
She was to celebrate her birthday with two parties — with family on Monday and a larger gathering on Tuesday at her Brooklyn public housing community with friends, neighbours and officials.
Her life began in the final months of the 19th century, took in the full sweep of the 20th and has witnessed the start of the 21st century.
Jones, an African American, was born in Alabama to a father who picked cotton to support his wife and 10 children. She was accepted into college, but her parents could not afford the tuition.
So in 1922 she left for New Jersey, and then moved to New York a year later to work as a live-in housekeeper and nanny.
“Sleep!” she told Guinness World Records when asked for the secret of her longevity. She is blind and hard of hearing, but is not bed-bound and “only takes two medications a day,” the website said.
In 2005, when she celebrated her 106th birthday, she told New York’s housing authority: “I never drink or smoke.”