Maria Valentim, said to be world’s oldest human at 114

Maria Gomes Valentim lived all her life in Carangola, Brazil. Maria Gomes Valentim lived all her life in Carangola, Brazil. (Guinness World Records/File 2001)
Associated Press / June 22, 2011

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SAO PAULO — A Brazilian woman listed by Guinness World Records as the world’s oldest person died yesterday, just weeks shy of her 115th birthday. The title now belongs to a woman in the United States.

Maria Gomes Valentim died of multiple organ failure, said Helerson Lima, a spokesman for the nursing home where she lived.

Ms. Valentim would have turned 115 July 9.

Guinness said on its website that Ms. Valentim, “the first Brazilian super-centenarian to hold the title,’’ died at the age of 114 years, 347 days.

On May 18, Guinness determined that Ms. Valentim was 48 days older than the person previously considered the world’s oldest human, Besse Cooper from Monroe, Ga.

“With Maria’s passing, the title of Oldest Living Person reverts back to American Besse Cooper, age 114 years 299 days,’’ Guinness said.

The Georgia woman’s son, Sid Cooper, said yesterday that his mother is doing well at her retirement community in Monroe.

“She’s gained some weight, she’s eating real good,’’ Sid Cooper said.

“Her memory is still really good,’’ he added. “She remembers things from a long time ago and recognizes people.’’

Guinness verified that Ms. Valentim was born on July 9, 1896, in the city of Carangola in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais.

She lived there all her life.

Last month, Guinness said on its website that Ms. Valentim, who was known as Grandma Quita, attributed her longevity to a healthy diet: eating a roll of bread every morning with coffee, fruit, and the occasional milk with linseed.

Ms. Valentim’s family told reporters that she had a stubborn streak and always kept her habit of minding her own business. They also said that her father lived to be 100.

“She says she has lived long because she has always taken care of her own life and not meddled in the lives of others,’’ granddaughter Jane Ribeiro Moraes, 63, told a local newspaper last month.

Ms. Valentim married her husband, Joao, in 1913. He died in 1946.

Ms. Valentim leaves four grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren, and five great-great grandchildren. Her only son died at age 75 in the early 1990s.

Ms. Valentim was scheduled to be buried yesterday afternoon at the Carangola cemetery.