World's Oldest Person Dies

Maud Farris-Luse, right, shown in Jan. 2001 in Coldwater, Mich., and recognized last year by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's oldest living person, has died. AP

Maud Farris-Luse, recognized last year by the Guinness World Records book as the world's oldest living person, has died. She was 115.

She died Monday from complications of pneumonia at Community Health Center of Branch County in Coldwater, a town south of Grand Rapids in southwestern Michigan. She had been in the hospital since Sunday night, said Kyle Fassett, administrator of the Laurels of Coldwater, the nursing home where Farris-Luse lived.

Farris-Luse was 115 years, 56 days old.

"It was her time," said great-granddaughter Laurie Ferris, 32. "She lived a long time and now she's in a better place. She passed away very, very peacefully."

Last June, Guinness editors recognized Farris-Luse as the oldest living person whose age could be verified. Though her birth certificate was lost over the years, the editors authenticated her age through other documents, including U.S. Census Bureau records and her 1903 marriage license.

Described as a sharp and fiercely independent woman, Farris-Luse lived alone and cared for herself until she broke her hip in a 1991 fall at her house. That is when she moved to the Laurels nursing home. She remained mentally alert until about five years ago.

By the time of her 115th birthday in January, relatives said she could not see or hear them or understand what was happening, but still seemed to enjoy visitors.

"She was just a wonderful woman, loved her family, always happy," said Ferris, whose branch of the family prefers that spelling instead of Farris.

Farris-Luse was born Jan. 21, 1887, in Morley, about 40 miles north of Grand Rapids. She married Jason Farris, a farmer and laborer, in 1903, when he was 24 and she was 16. They lived in Angola, Ind., before moving to Coldwater in 1923. They had seven children.

Farris died at age 72 in 1951, when his wife was 64. She then married Walter Luse, who died three years into their marriage.

Over the years, Farris-Luse worked as a clerk in a factory, a hotel maid, a baker and a restaurant cook, retiring in her 70s. She outlived all but one of her children.

Another woman recognized as one of the world's oldest, Delvina Dahlheimer, was 113 when she died March 13 in Elk River, Minn. Her birth date was Dec. 31, 1888. Mary Thompson of DeWitt, Ark., was said to be 119 when she died Oct. 8, though Guinness did not officially recognize her age.
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