Gibson at the age of 114
|Birth:||31 October 1890|
Corinth, Mississippi, USA
|Death:||16 February 2006|
Tuscumbia, Alabama, USA
|Age:||115 years, 108 days|
Susan Elizabeth "Susie" Gibson (née Potts; 31 October 1890 (claimed 1889) – 16 February 2006) was an American supercentenarian and the 3rd-oldest person in the world at the time of her death. She currently ranks as one of the 40 oldest people ever. Moreover, Susie was older than several 'world's oldest persons'. Unfortunately she came along at a time of heavy competition: Maria Capovilla, Elizabeth Bolden, and Bettie Wilson together marked just the 2nd time there were four living 115+-year-olds at the same time in 2005–2006 (the first time was in 1997–1998). In addition to her age, Susie was in remarkable shape, able to be interviewed by NBC and others and still mentally fit until her final months. Unlike those confined to a nursing home, Susie went out to eat at O'Charley's restaurant regularly, even up to age 115.
Susie Gibson was born as Susan Elizabeth Potts in Corinth, Mississippi, USA. The oldest located document, the 1900 Census, lists her as born in 1890, as does the 1920 Census. Her Social Security record, however, lists her as born in 1889.
Susie Potts married James W. Gibson in 1915, and they moved to northwest Alabama, settling in Sheffield, Alabama. He died in 1955, and her only son, James Jr., died in 1987, at the age of 70. By this time, Susie was already 96 years old and now living alone (though she had surviving grandchildren).
Susie lived on her own until the age of 104, when she moved into a nursing home in Tuscumbia, Alabama. 10 years later, aged 114, she was one of the world's oldest people. In November 2004, Susie was interviewed, at the age of 114, and was able to talk more than an hour, remembering such things as the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, or that horse-drawn carriages would get stuck in the mud. Susie also recalled finding minié balls along the creeks near the old Shiloh battlefield. In October 2005, Susie was interviewed again because of her 115th birthday, this time for NBC News.
Rank among oldest people
By age 114 (claimed age 115), Susie was old enough to be the world's oldest person, but by a quirk of statistics, there just happened to be a large field of candidates at the same time. As late as November 2004, Susie ranked just 7th on the "world's oldest person" list, even though Hendrikje van Andel-Schipper of the Netherlands had taken the world title on 29 May 2004 at a mere 113 years, 335 days. In addition, Susie claimed to be one year older, but the family bible has not been located (yet) to back up such a claim.
By April 2005, Susie Gibson moved up to 5th-oldest in the world after the passings of then validated oldest American Emma Verona Johnston (6 August 1890 – 1 December 2004) of Ohio and Anne Primout (5 October 1890 – 26 March 2005) of France, and had moved into the all-time top 40 oldest verified persons. The passing of Ura Koyama of Japan (30 August 1890 – 5 April 2005) temporarily moved Susie up to 4th on the world list, but the subsequent validation to be older of fellow American Elizabeth Bolden on 28 April 2005 had once again relegated her to fifth-oldest.
She moved back up to fourth on 25 July 2005 with the passing of Maria do Couto Maia-Lopes of Portugal. On 30 August 2005, Hendrikje van Andel-Schipper (then the recognized oldest person in the world) died, and Susie moved up to 3rd-oldest in the world (but still only 3rd-oldest in the U.S.). The U.S. (like Japan from December 2002 – September 2003) now had the rather rare situation of having the top 3 oldest verified people in the world. This changed again, however, on 9 December 2005, when Guinness World Records recognized 116-year-old Maria Capovilla of Ecuador as the oldest living person. Susie was once again moved down to fourth place. On 13 February 2006, the death of compatriot Bettie Wilson meant she moved up briefly to 3rd place.
Susie Gibson died less than 72 hours later, in the early hours of 16 February 2006, at the age of 115 years, 108 days.