For her 116th birthday, a south Arkansas woman celebrated with a party, cake and a new title. According to the Gerontology Research Group, Gertrude Weaver is now officially the oldest confirmed living American and the second-oldest person in the world.
“Most people want to know, ‘Well, can she talk?’” said Vicki Vaughan, a staff member at Weaver’s nursing home. “Her health is starting to decline a little bit this year — I can tell a difference from last year, but she still is up and gets out of the room and comes to all of her meals, comes to activities. She’ll laugh and smile and clap.”
The research group, which consults with the Guinness Book of World Records, determined Weaver’s age by analyzing U.S. Census records. A 1900 Census listed Weaver as 2 years old, putting her birthday in 1898, the research group’s database administrator Robert Young told AP.
Weaver revealed that “trusting in the Lord, hard work and loving everybody” are the top three factors for her longevity.
“You have to follow God. Don’t follow anyone else,” she told the Camden News this week. “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.”
As for the world title, Japan’s 116-year-old Misao Okawa currently holds the number one spot.
“Normally, 116 would be old enough to be the world’s oldest person,” Young said. “There’s kind of heavy competition at the moment.”