No citizen is more senior than 113-year-old Charlotte Benkner.
Benkner, who became the world's oldest person this week, will celebrate her 114th birthday Sunday at the northeast Ohio retirement home where she lives with her 99-year-old sister.
"I'm overwhelmed that so many people came out for my birthday," Benkner said Friday at an early celebration. "It's only another birthday."
According to the Guinness Book of Records, she became the world's oldest person with the death of 114-year-old Mitoyo Kawate of Japan on Thursday.
"I'm just a person like anybody else," said Benkner, downplaying the title.
The petite woman still takes walks three times a day and goes to church every Sunday. She also gets her hair done every week.
Benkner was born Nov. 16, 1889 in Germany. At six, she moved with her family to New York, where they ran The Albert Hotel in Peekskill. She now rooms with her sister, Matilda O'Hare, at a retirement home about 65 miles southeast of Cleveland. The only survivors of 11 siblings, they spend nearly every moment together.
"I need her. She does something for my existence," Benkner said.
Her physician, Dr. Charles Wilkins, said Benkner has a sharp mind and that her outlook on life is a key to her longevity.
She was married for 56 years until her husband's death in 1967. Benkner still wears her wedding band.
"He put it there. It will stay there until I go," she said.
The world's oldest person with an authenticated birth record was Jeanne Calment, a Frenchwoman who died in 1997 at age 122, according to Guinness.
When asked the secret to a long life, Benkner replied: "There is no secret. I just live each day the way the Lord gives it to me."
© 2003 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.