Maria de Jesus, the world's oldest person, dies at age 115

Friday, January 2, 2009

The Municipality building of Tomar, Portugal, the city in which de Jesus lived.

Portuguese Maria de Jesus died Tuesday, at 115 years and 114 days old. The vegetarian, non-smoking, teetotal farmer had only visited a hospital once in her life, outliving her husband by 57 years, and two of her five children. The cause of her death is either unknown or has not yet been released.

De Jesus had five children, 11 grandchildren, 16 great-grandchildren and six great-great-grandchildren. She had no need for a mobility scooter — instead she lived on her farm and moved with a walking frame, declining nursing care. However, due to sight and hearing problems, she could not easiliy recognize her family, including daughter Madalena, 84, with whom she lived.

She never went to school, and could not write, but one of her children said of her that she never "fell ill, nor took any medication."

She became the world's oldest person after the November 26 death of American Edna Parker, who was 115 years and 220 days old. Her position as the world's oldest person has now been taken by American Gertrude Baines, 114.