NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Susannah Mushatt Jones, the world's oldest person, has died in New York City at age 116.
Robert Young, a senior consultant for the Gerontology Research Group, says Jones died at a senior home in Brooklyn Thursday night. He said she had been ill for the past 10 days.
Jones was born in a small farm town near Montgomery, Alabama, in 1899. She was one of 11 siblings and attended a special school for young black girls.
When she graduated from high school in 1922, Jones worked full time helping family members pick crops. She left after a year to begin working as a nanny, heading north to New Jersey and eventually making her way to New York.
She was married for about five years and although she never had any children of her own, she has more than 100 nieces and nephews.
"She's wonderful, she's marvelous," friend Mildred Perman said when Jones celebrated her 116th birthday last year.
Family members said last year that they credited her long life to love of family and generosity to others.
Her niece, Lois Judge, said at the time that she believed it helped that her aunt grew up on a rural farm, where she ate fresh fruits and vegetables that she picked herself.
"She used to say it has to do with no partying and no drinking," Judge said.
After she moved to New York, Jones worked with a group of her fellow high school graduates to start a scholarship fund for young African-American women to go to college. She also was active in her public housing building's tenant patrol until she was 106.
Jones became Guinness World Records' official oldest person when 117-year-old Misao Okawa died in Tokyo last year.
"Ms. Jones was the very last American from the 1800s,'' said Young, whose group tracks and maintains a database of the world's longest-living people.
Young said 116-year-old Emma Morano, of Verbania, Italy, just a few months younger than Jones, is now the unofficial world's oldest person.
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