Cooper on her 116th birthday in 2012.
|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 in Sullivan, Tennessee, USA on 26 August 1896 to Richard Brown and Barsheba 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 7th 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.
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 19th-oldest person on the all-time list of oldest validated supercentenarians, and the fifth-oldest validated person ever from the United States, behind Sarah Knauss, Susannah Mushatt Jones, Gertrude Weaver, and Elizabeth Bolden.
- November 8, 2006 – Cooper, aged 110 years, 74 days, entered the Gerontology Research Group's list for Guinness World Records.
- January 19, 2009 – Beatrice Farve died. Cooper, aged 112 years, 146 days, became the oldest living person in the U.S. state of Georgia.
- November 19, 2009 – Chiyo Shiraishi died. Cooper, aged 113 years, 88 days, entered the list of the 10 oldest living people in the world.
- January 31, 2011 – Eunice Sanborn died. Cooper, aged 114 years, 158 days, became the oldest living person in the United States. She was thought to be the world's oldest living individual until May 18, 2011, when Brazil's Maria Gomes Valentim was verified as older.
- April 14, 2011 – Walter Breuning died. Cooper, aged 114 years, 231 days, became the last surviving American born in 1896.
- May 18, 2011 – Guinness World Records reported that Maria Gomes Valentim had been verified as the oldest living person in the world since November 4, 2010.
- June 21, 2011 – Maria Gomes Valentim died. Cooper, aged 114 years, 299 days, became the world's oldest living person. She also became the third person to regain the status of the verified oldest living person, the first being Jeanne Calment and the second being Elizabeth Bolden.
- August 9, 2011 – Cooper, aged 114 years, 348 days, became the longest-lived person born in 1896, surpassing Maria Gomes Valentim.
- August 26, 2011 – Cooper became the 25th verified person in recorded history to reach age 115, and the first person to do so since Gertrude Baines, who celebrated her 115th birthday on April 6, 2009.
- November 14, 2011 – Cooper, aged 115 years, 80 days, surpassed Augusta Holtz to become one of the 20 oldest people ever.
- December 2, 2011 – Chiyono Hasegawa died. Cooper, aged 115 years, 98 days, became the last verified surviving person born in 1896.
- December 13, 2011 – Cooper, aged 115 years, 109 days, surpassed Susie Gibson to become one of the ten oldest Americans ever.
- January 30, 2012 – Cooper, aged 115 years, 157 days, surpassed Emiliano Mercado del Toro to become one of the 15 oldest people.
- April 3, 2012 – Cooper, aged 115 years, 221 days, surpassed Edna Parker to become one of the 10 oldest women. In surpassing Parker, Cooper also became the oldest living person since 116-year-old Elizabeth Bolden died in December 2006.
- April 11, 2012 – Cooper, aged 115 years, 229 days, surpassed Charlotte Hughes to become one of the 10 oldest people.
- May 5, 2012 – Cooper, aged 115 years, 253 days, surpassed Christian Mortensen to become one of the five oldest Americans.
- June 22, 2012 – Cooper, aged 115 years, 301 days, became the first person since Edna Parker to hold the title of the world's oldest living person for more than a year.
- August 26, 2012 – Cooper became the eighth verified person in history to reach age 116, and the first to do so since Elizabeth Bolden, who celebrated her 116th birthday on August 15, 2006.
- December 4, 2012 – Cooper died of natural causes in Monroe, Georgia, aged 116 years, 100 days. She was succeeded as the world's oldest living person by Dina Manfredini of Iowa.
- 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