Jeanne Calment (February 21, 1875 – August 4, 1997) Jeanne Cament was born in Arles, France, to a well-to-do family, her close family members also unsurprisingly lived to an advanced age: her brother, François, lived to the grand old age of 97, her father, Nicolas, 93, and her mother, Marguerite, 86. In 1896, she decided to marry her second cousin (grandson of her great-uncle) Fernand Calment, a wealthy storeowner. His impressive wealth made it possible for Calment never to have to work: instead she led a very relaxed lifestyle, pursuing hobbies like tennis, cycling, swimming, rollerskating, piano and opera. Her beloved husband died in 1942, after he unfortunately ate a dessert prepared with spoiled cherries
Calment's longevity strangely enough was not shared by her offspring. Her only daughter, Yvonne, died at age 36 in 1934 from pneumonia. As a result, the task of bringing up her grandson Frédéric fell on to her shoulders. He was trained as a doctor, but died in 1963 in a tragic motorcycle accident.
After her 1988 interview, at age 113, Calment was given the Guinness book of Records' "world's oldest person" title. She was first mentioned in the Guinness Records publication of 1989, in new claims at the end. However, in 1989 the title was withdrawn and given to Carrie C. White of Florida, who was claimed to have been born in 1874, although this has since been disputed by subsequent census research.
On the death of Carrie White on February 14, 1991, Calment, then only a week shy of 116, became the oldest recognized living person. On October 17, 1995 Calment reached 120 years and 238 days to become the Guinness "oldest person ever", surpassing Shigechiyo Izumi of Japan, whose own claim has since also been subject to some considerable doubt. Coincidentally, Izumi died on Calment's 111th birthday.
If the questionable cases of Shigechiyo Izumi and Carrie White are to be discounted, Calment is the first person documented to reach 115, 116, 117, 118, and 119 years old. She is also the only person to have undisputedly lived at least 120 years.
Following Calment's death on August 4, 1997, then almost 117-year-old Marie-Louise Meilleur of Canada became the oldest recognized person in the world.
Shigechiyo Izumi (June 29, 1865? – February 21, 1986) of Tokunoshima, Amami Islands, Japan was, according to Guinness Book of World Records, the person with the greatest authenticated age in the whole world after the eventual death of Niwa Kawamoto, also from Japan. Assuming his proclaimed birthdate is accuarate, he would have attained an age of 120 years, older than any other recognized male, and the second-longest lived human ever, second only to Frenchwoman Jeanne Calment. He also holds the record for the longest working career for a person, which spanned 98 years. He was recorded as a six-year-old in Japan's first census of 1871. His wife died at the age of 90. He drank shochu (a Japanese alcoholic beverage distilled from barley), and began up smoking at age 70. His long career began in 1872 goading draft animals at a sugar mill, and he finally retired as a sugarcane farmer in 1970 at the age of 105. He attributed his long life to "God, Buddha and the Sun." He was not a tall man as he stood at 1.42 meters (four feet, eight inches) tall and weighed 42.6 kilograms (94 pounds), and an interesting stat is that he lived through 71 Japanese Prime Ministers!
Following his death, Mamie Eva Keith took over the title and became the world's oldest person. Also, for more than 20 years after his death every person with the title of the world's oldest living person had been female until Emiliano Mercado del Toro became the world's "oldest living person" on December 11, 2006.
His age has been a matter of some dispute and some historians suggest that he was actually born several years later and named after his older sibling (a brother), who perhaps died young.
Sarah DeRemer Clark Knauss (September 24, 1880 – December 30, 1999) was considered the "world's oldest person" by Guinness Book of World Records from April 16, 1998 until her eventual death at age 119. Aged 117, Sarah set the record for the oldest "new" titleholder (which corresponds to the highest "valley" on a graph of the oldest living persons over time). She died a mere 33 hours before the year 2000, bringing to an end the last verified living person born before 1885.
Knauss was a homemaker and had an earlier career as an insurance office manager. Her daughter, Kathryn Sullivan (1903-2005), who was 96 at the time of Sarah's death, once explained Knauss' three-digit age by saying: "She's a very tranquil person and nothing fazes her. That's why she's living this long."
In 1995, when Sarah was asked if she enjoyed her long life, Knauss said matter-of-factly: "I enjoy it because I have my health and I can do things." Her passions included watching golf on television, doing needlepoint, and nibbling on milk chocolate turtles, cashews, and potato chips. "Sarah was an elegant lady and worthy of all the honor and adulation she had received," said Joseph Hess, an Administrator of the Phoebe-Devitt Homes Foundation facility where Knauss died quietly in her room. Officials said that, to their knowledge, she had not been ill so must have just died of old age.
Knauss lived through seven U.S. wars, twenty three U.S. Presidents, the sinking of the RMS Titanic and Charles Lindbergh's solo flight across the Atlantic. She was older than the Brooklyn Bridge and even the Statue of Liberty, and was already 88 when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon in July of 1969!
Apart from her daughter, Knauss was also survived by a grandson, three great-granddaughters, and five great-great grandchildren.
When she was 116 she was recognized as the United States national longevity recordholder, then thought to be held by the meanwhile disputed Carrie White (1874?-1991). It is now believed that the record should have been held by Lucy Hannah (117 years and 248 days), who died in 1993. In any case, Sarah extended the U.S. record to age 119. She lived to see her daughter turn 96, and passed away 33 hours before the year 2000. Some scientific circles consider her to be the second-oldest person ever, though Guinness and this site recognize her as third, after Jeanne Calment (1875-1997) and the also in the meantime disputed Shigechiyo Izumi (1865?-1986) respectively.
She is considered to have been the last remaining living member of the Missionary Generation.