MONROE, Ga. (CBS Atlanta) — World record holder Besse Cooper recently celebrated her 116th birthday, adding to her status as the world’s oldest living person.

According to the official website for the Guinness World Records, Cooper was first awarded the title in January 2011.

She temporarily lost it to Maria Gomes Valentin of Brazil, who was found to be just 48 days older than Cooper. But when Valentin passed away in June 2011, Cooper was again awarded the title, and has maintained it ever since.

Cooper was born in 1896. A native of Tennessee, she moved to Monroe, Ga., during World War I to look for work as a teacher, the records committee noted.

She then married Luther, her husband, in 1924. They had four children together, who then had a total of 12 grandchildren. She also has over 12 great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.

The momentous occasion was marked with a ribbon-cutting ceremony in her honor, held at a bridge in town whose construction had just finished.

Her son Sidney, who attended the ceremony, said she was “glad [she] gave them a reason to name it.”

He added, “The older she has gotten, the more wittier [sic] she has gotten.”

Only eight other people have allegedly reached the age of 116. When asked for her advice for a long life, she offered two tips.

“I mind my own business,” she told Guinness. “And I don’t eat junk food.”


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