Dec. 7, 2012 at 11:43 AM ET
Born before Amelia Earhart, Iowa woman Dina Manfredini has lived in three different centuries on her way to achieving a milestone for longevity.
According to Guinness World Records, Manfredini, of Des Moines, is now the oldest living person in the world at 115 years and 245 days. She assumed that status after the death of Georgia woman Besse Cooper Tuesday at the age of 116.
Manfredini is also the only verified Italian person to reach 115 years old in documented history, according to Robert Young, the senior consultant of gerontology for Guinness World Records. She is just 15 days older than the second-oldest person in the world, Japanese record holder Jiroemon Kimura. She also is about a week away from being named the world’s oldest immigrant, a record set by Danish-born American Christian Mortensen, according to Guinness. (Mortensen died in 1998 at the age of 115 years, 252 days.)
Manfredini was born on April 4, 1897, and grew up in Pievepelago, Italy, before moving to Iowa in 1920 with her late husband, Riccardo. After her husband was injured at work, she helped support the family by working at a food processing factory and at a Des Moines ordnance plant that produced ammunition in World War II. She also cleaned houses on the side, which she continued to do until she was 90 years old, after raising her four children.
“I’m old, old lady, but I work,’’ she told the Des Moines Register in 2004. “Work hard. I like work.’’
Manfredini lived on her own until she moved into a nursing home in Johnston, Iowa, when she was 110. Her family told Guinness they believe her longevity comes from “hard work and everything in moderation.’’ While Manfredini's hearing is poor, she is in relatively good health and moves with the aid of a walker.
The oldest known person in history was Jeanne Calment of Arles, France, who was aged 122 years and 164 days when she died in 1997, according to Guinness. There are believed to be about 70 people worldwide who are 110 or older.
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