Besse Cooper on her 116th birthday
|Birth:||26 August 1896|
Sullivan, Tennessee, USA
|Death:||4 December 2012|
Monroe, Georgia, USA
|Age:||116 years, 100 days|
Besse Berry Cooper (née Brown; 26 August 1896 – 4 December 2012) was a validated American supercentenarian who was the world's oldest living person from 21 June 2011 to her death. After the death of Maria Gomes Valentim on 21 June 2011, Cooper became recognized as the world's oldest living person. On 26 August 2012, Cooper celebrated her 116th birthday. She died on 4 December 2012, at the age of 116 years, 100 days.
Besse Berry Brown was born on 26 August 1896 in Tennessee to Richard Brown and Angeline Berry. She graduated in 1916 from East Tennessee Normal School (now East Tennessee State Unitversity). She worked as a teacher. She moved to Georgia in 1917, and married Luther Cooper in 1924. He died in 1963. Besse and Luther Cooper had four children: Angeline (born 1929), Luther Jr. (born 1932), Sidney (born 1935), and Nancy (born 1944). In 2009, after Beatrice Farve died, Besse became the oldest resident of Georgia, and became the oldest living person after Maria Gomes Valentim died on 21 June 2011. Besse Cooper died on 4 December 2012 at the age of 116 years, 100 days as the eighth-oldest person on record.
Cooper was the 8th person to reach the age of 116 or more; after Chiyono Hasegawa's death she became the last verified person born in 1896. She is also one of the 3 people to have lost the title of the oldest person but later regained it, the other two being Elizabeth Bolden and Jeanne Calment.
Besse Cooper died on 4 December 2012 at her nursing home in Monroe, Georgia. She was survived by all of her children, 11 grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren and 2 great-great grandchildren. Her son Sidney said that she "looked very good" when she died. She died at the age of 116 years, 100 days as the 8th oldest person ever recorded and the last person born in 1896. After her death, the Italian born-resident of Johnston, Dina Manfredini, became the oldest living person, but died 13 days later and was succeeded by the Japanese man Jiroemon Kimura. Though Jiroemon Kimura's birthdate is recorded as 19 April 1897 his nephew claimed he was born on 19 March 1897 and his birthdate was recorded wrong when the records of Kimura's neighbourhood were being rebuilt in 1955, if this is true he would be older than Manfredini and would have become the oldest living person after Besse Cooper herself died. She is currently the 14th-oldest person on the all-time list of oldest validated supercentenarians.
- Gerontology Research Group
- Bob Cox's Yesteryear, November 30, 2009
- Athens Banner-Herald, August 27, 2010
- Atlanta Journal Constitution, August 26, 2011
- Atlanta Journal Constitution, August 27, 2012
- Atlanta Journal Constitution, December 4, 2012