Gertrude Weaver, who became the world’s oldest person last week, died Monday morning in Arkansas after suffering complications from pneumonia.
The 116-year-old became next in line to officially earn the title of oldest person when 117-year-old Misao Okawa of Japan died Wednesday. Weaver was fully aware of her unique place in the world and “knew everything,” Kathy Langley, administrator at the Silver Oaks Health and Rehabilitation Center, where Weaver lived, told The Post by phone.
“She was alert and oriented,” Langley said. “She knew that she was the oldest person in the world, and she enjoyed that distinction greatly. She enjoyed every phone call, every letter, every comment — everything was read to her.”
Weaver became sick on Saturday and died at 10:12 a.m. Monday, Langley said. She’s survived by her son, Joe Weaver, who turns 94 on Tuesday, Langley said.
“She was an amazing woman who we deeply loved, and we’re incredibly saddened by her loss,” Langley said.
Born in 1898 as the youngest of six children in southwest Arkansas, Weaver was the daughter of sharecroppers. She once told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that her longevity was due to “treating everybody good” and eating her own cooking.
She told the Associated Press last year that she lived a long life thanks to “trusting in the Lord, hard work and loving everybody.”
“You have to follow God. Don’t follow anyone else,” she said. “Be obedient and follow the laws and don’t worry about anything. I’ve followed him for many, many years and I ain’t tired.”
Weaver married Gennie Weaver in 1915, and their marriage certificate was used by researchers in July to help verify her age.
She had four children, and her husband painted houses while she worked as a housekeeper. At age 104, she briefly entered a nursing home to recover from a broken hip, but she soon left the home and continued living with her granddaughter until the age of 109.
Figuring out the world’s oldest person is not an easy task, and the title goes to an individual whose age can be verified by some sort of documentation who typically applies for the recognition.
Weaver very likely was going to receive the title, Robert Young, director of the supercentenarians program at the Gerontology Research Group, told The Post last week. But a process had to first take place for the official Guinness title to be given, said Young, who serves as a consultant to Guinness.
Young said the Gerontology Research Group will recognize Weaver posthumously.
The world’s oldest person, according to the Gerontology Research Group’s tracking, is now likely 115-year-old Jeralean Talley of Inkster, Mich. “Technically speaking, we have the information we need. We know Ms. Talley is alive, we know Ms. Talley was born in 1899 — the 1900 Census said she was born in May,” Young said. “She basically is next in line.”
Talley previously held the title of “Oldest Living American,” but it was retracted in 2014 when the Gerontology Research Group confirmed Weaver’s birth date.
Talley also has remained active in her later years; she bowled until she turned 104 and went fishing at the age of 113.
“It’s all in the good Lord’s hands,” Talley told the Detroit Free Press ahead of her 115th birthday last May. “There’s nothing I can do about it.”
[This post has been updated]