“The oldest living person record category continues to capture the world’s collective imagination,” said Marco Frigatti, the GWR head of records. “Ms Morano has experienced things first hand that will soon be consigned to memory, and the record books. She can teach us all a lesson of the value of a life well lived.”
Morano received the news Friday morning that Susannah Mushatt Jones, a New York woman several months her senior, had died Thursday evening, passing the distinction of oldest person to Morano.
Upon hearing of her new title, she said: “My word, I’m as old as the hills,” a caregiver, Rosi Santoni, told the Telegraph.
The Italian supercentenarian was born in the Piedmont region of northern Italy on Nov 29, 1899. She lives now in a small lakeside town near the Switzerland border, still in her own one-bedroom home. Doctors make house calls, but for a 116-year-old, her health is good.
Leaving an unhappy marriage also helped her live so long, she told the Times. She separated from her husband in 1938 and never remarried. “I didn’t want to be dominated by anyone,” she said, though she did have many “suitors.” She worked at a factory and then as a cook, and didn’t retire until she was 75 — 41 years ago.
Reporters went to her home in Verbania on Friday to talk to her about being the last living person with a birth date in the 19th century. But, according to the Associated Press, they had to wait because Morano was napping.
Her physician, Carlo Bava, who delivered the news to her, credited Morano’s longevity to genetics, but also to her emotional balance.
“She is always very serene,” he told the Associated Press. “The beauty of Emma is that it is normal that she smiles, but also in difficulties, she is very decisive.”
(This post has been updated.)