The past is the present for future generations who do not know their history

Can you define supercentenarian…

neither could we. We had to look it up. The LA Times published the following article about a supercentenarian from the Shoals:

Susie Potts Gibson, 115; One of Oldest U.S. Women Attributed Longevity to Vinegar and Pickles

Susie Gibson

Susan Elizabeth 'Susie' Potts Gibson at age 112

February 18, 2006|Mary Rourke | Times Staff Writer/
Susie Potts Gibson, the youngest of three U.S. women verified to be 115, died Thursday, according to Nancy Paetz, a granddaughter.

Gibson died of natural causes at an assisted living facility in Tuscumbia, Ala., where she was a resident from about 106, Paetz said. For many years before that, Gibson lived alone in the house that had been her home for about 80 years.

She died three days after another 115-year-old woman, Bettie Wilson, died in New Albany, Miss. Both women were born in Mississippi, but Wilson was one month older than Gibson. A third woman, Elizabeth Bolden of Memphis, Tenn., the oldest of the three by one month, survives her younger peers.

With Gibson’s death, Bolden becomes the second-oldest person in the world with documentation, according the Gerontology Research Group of Los Angeles. The oldest living person, also a woman, is 116-year-old Maria Capovilla of Ecuador.Born Susan Potts, Oct. 31, 1890, in Corinth, Miss., Gibson was the child of a banker, Paetz said. Among her memorable experiences as a young woman was a cross-country trip she vividly recalled winning in 1912. She said she was in a movie theater in California when an announcer interrupted the show to tell the audience that the Titanic was sinking off the coast of Newfoundland.

She married James Gibson, a pharmacist, and the couple moved to Sheffield, Ala. Gibson outlived her husband as well as their son, James.

When Gibson was 90, she still took her boat out alone to go fishing, Paetz said.

She also enjoyed hosting bridge parties at her home and did all the cooking.

She gardened and stayed active with the women’s group at her church.

Asked the secret to a long life, Gibson recommended frequent doses of vinegar. She put it on turnip greens and nearly everything else, Paetz said. She also advised eating pickles.

Paetz, however, said Gibson’s longevity had to do with her basic rule about spending time.

“My grandmother put things in two pots: what she had to do and what she wanted to do,” Paetz said. “Most of the time, what she wanted to do took priority. As a result she was happy.”

Gibson is survived by two grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Susie Elizabeth Gibson née Potts (October 31, 1890 (or 1889, according to herself) – February 16, 2006) was an American supercentenarian and the third-oldest person in the world at the time of her death. She currently ranks as one of the 25 oldest validated persons of all time. Moreover, Susie was older than several ‘world’s oldest persons’. Unfortunately she came along at a time of heavy competition: María Capovilla, Elizabeth Bolden and Bettie Wilson together marked just the second time there were four living at least 115-year-olds at the same time in 2005–2006 (the first time was in 1997–1998). In addition to her age, Susie was in remarkable shape, able to be interviewed by NBC and others and still mentally fit until her final months. Unlike those confined to a nursing home, Susie went out to eat at O’Charley’s restaurant regularly, even up to age 115. Susie was born in Corinth, Mississippi. The oldest located document, in the 1900 Census, lists her as born in 1890, as does the one in the 1920 Census. Her Social Security record, however, lists her as born in 1889.

Susie Potts married James W. Gibson in 1915, and they moved to northwest Alabama, settling in Sheffield. He died in 1955, and her only son, James Jr., died in 1987, aged 70. By this time, Susie was already 96 years old—and now living alone (though she had surviving grandchildren).

Susie lived on her own until age 104, when she moved into a nursing home in Tuscumbia, Alabama. Ten years later, aged 114, she was one of the world’s oldest people. In November 2004, Susie was interviewed, at age 114, and was able to talk more than an hour, remembering such things as the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, or that horse-drawn carriages would get stuck in the mud. Susie also recalled finding minié balls along the creeks near the old Shiloh battlefield. In October 2005, Susie was interviewed again because of her 115th birthday, this time for NBC News (see video links).

By age 114 (she claimed age 115), Susie was old enough to be the world’s oldest person, but by a quirk of statistics, there just happened to be a large field of candidates at the same time. As late as November 2004, Susie ranked just seventh on the “world’s oldest person” list, even though Hendrikje van Andel-Schipper of the Netherlands had taken the world title on May 29, 2004 at a mere 113 years and 335 days. In addition, Susie claimed to be one year older, but the family Bible has not been located (yet) to back up such a claim.

By April 2005, Susie Gibson moved up to fifth-oldest in the world after the deaths of then verified oldest American Emma Verona Johnston (August 6, 1890 – December 1, 2004) of Ohio and Anne Primout (October 5, 1890 – March 26, 2005) of France, and had moved into the all-time top 40 oldest verified persons. The death of Ura Koyama of Japan (August 30, 1890 – April 5, 2005) temporarily moved Susie up to fourth on the world list, but the subsequent validation to be older of fellow American Elizabeth Bolden by April 28, 2005 had once again relegated her to fifth-oldest. She moved back up to fourth on July 25, 2005 with the death of Maria do Couto Maia-Lopes of Portugal. On August 30, 2005, Hendrikje van Andel-Schipper (then the recognized oldest person in the world) died, and Susie moved up to third-oldest in the world (but still only third-oldest in the U.S.!). The U.S. (like Japan in December 2002 – September 2003) now had the rather rare situation of having the three oldest verified people in the world. This changed again, however, on December 9, 2005, when Guinness World Records recognized 116-year-old María Capovilla of Ecuador as the oldest living person. Susie was once again moved down to fourth place. On February 13, 2006, the death of compatriot Bettie Wilson meant she moved up briefly to third place. However, Susie Gibson died less than 72 hours later, in the early hours of February 16, 2006, at 115 years and 108 days.




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