Elsie Thompson, oldest American, dies at age 113

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Oldest American passes away at age 113

Elsie Thompson was the oldest living American and the fourth-oldest person in the world at the time of her death.

 

Elsie Thompson, who in January became the oldest living American and whose life spanned three centuries, has died at age 113.

Thompson died on March 21 at her condominium in Clearwater, Fla., two weeks shy of her 114th birthday. She had congestive heart failure.

 

"She had such a big heart," her 72-year-old son and only child, George Thompson, told the Tampa Bay Times on Sunday. "She was such a large person."

Thompson became the oldest living American on Jan. 23, after the death of Mamie Rearden, a South Carolina resident who lived to be 114. At the time of her death, Thompson was the fourth-oldest living person in the world.

Thompson was born in Beaver Falls, Pa., on April 5, 1899, when William McKinley was president and a year after the close of the Spanish-American War.

At age 21, she married Ron Thompson, an Army veteran of both world wars and a Republican state legislator who represented Mt. Lebanon for 22 years.  While her husband was away during World War II, she ran his business, which refined used gold, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

The couple retired to Clearwater, and her husband died in 1986.

When she turned 111, Thompson revealed to the Tampa Bay Times her secret to longevity: "I love people," she said then.

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Her longtime caregiver, Susie Harper, said Thompson always had a sunny disposition. "Even if it was raining out, I'd say, 'Oh, Elsie, it's raining out.' She'd say, 'Well, sweetie, we'll just make our own sunshine,'" Harper told the Beaver County Times.

Even in her later years, Thompson remained active, going for walks, watching birds and getting facials and manicures from Harper.

"She always had a very positive attitude," Harper told the Beaver County Times. "She was always happy."

After Thompson's death on March 21, her family held a memorial service in Clearwater. Her ashes will be buried in Pennsylvania, next to her late husband.

In addition to her son, Thompson is survived by three grandsons and six great-grandchildren.

With her passing, the oldest living American is now Jeralean Talley, a 113-year-old Inkster, Mich., woman who was born May 23, 1899, according to Gerontology Research Group.

The oldest living person in the world is believed to be 115-year-old Jiroemon Kimura of Japan.

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