WNYT.com

115-year-old woman dies, was world’s oldest person

Updated at: 12/17/2012 5:06 PM
By BARBARA RODRIGUEZ

(AP) DES MOINES, Iowa - A 115-year-old Iowa woman has died less than two weeks after inheriting the title of world’s oldest person, her family said Monday.

Dina Manfredini, who lived at the Bishop Drumm Retirement Center in Johnston, died Monday morning, according to her granddaughter Lori Logli. Logli would not elaborate on her grandmother’s cause of death, but she said Manfredini had been suffering from a fever.

Guinness World Records confirmed Manfredini inherited the title of world’s oldest living person less than two weeks ago. Besse Cooper of Georgia previously held the title at age 116.

Logli said her grandmother was known as a great cook who baked Italian bread every Sunday for her family, and meticulously made pasta by hand. She called Manfredini a hard worker.

"She was active her whole life," Logli said. "She was a very giving person."

Logli said Manfredini also looked very young for her age. She had salt-and-pepper hair until she was about 110 years old.

"She could not believe that she was as old as she was," she said with a small laugh. "When we would tell her she would just shake her head in disbelief. She’d say, `Oh, I’m an old lady.’"

Robert Young, a senior consultant of gerontology for Guinness, said a Japanese man, Jiroemon Kimura, is believed to now hold the title. He was born on April 19, 1897, which makes him just 15 days younger than Manfredini. Young said Kimura, of Kyotango in Kyoto, also is believed to be the second-oldest man in documented history.

Officials have confirmed Kimura’s age, and now are checking in with the retirement home where he lives. They expect to announce his title shortly.

Manfredini was born on April 4, 1897, in Italy, according to Guinness officials. She moved to the United States in 1920 and settled in Des Moines with her husband.

Young said that on Dec. 13, Manfredini became No. 10 on the list of world’s longest-living people. She also has the designation of the world’s longest-living immigrant because of her move to the U.S.

Logli said Manfredini was primarily a homemaker and mother. She had four children, seven grandchildren and more than a dozen great-grandchildren. She later cleaned houses until she was 90 and lived independently until she was 110 years old.

Young said Manfredini is the only verified Italian person to reach age 115 in documented history.

"We are fortunate to have had her this long in our lives as a mother and grandmother. She truly was a special gift from God and touched a lot of lives. She will always be remembered as a great cook, baker, and gardener," the family’s statement said.

Manfredini’s brief reign is not the shortest. Emma Tillman of East Hartford, Conn., held the title of world’s oldest living person for just four days in 2007. She was 114.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)