Mary Thompson, 120, who might have been the oldest...


August 09, 1996

Mary Thompson, 120, who might have been the oldest American, died after a heart attack Saturday in Orlando, Fla. Records suggest she was at least 120.

She was born to former slaves and never had an official birth certificate. The Social Security Administration traced her life as far back as March 27, 1876.

Using that date, she would have been older than Carrie White, whom The Guinness Book of Records listed as 116 at the time of death.

Mrs. Thompson outlived two husbands and eight of 10 children. She said the secret of long life was to "tend to your own business."

Guinness lists Jeanne Calment of France, 121, as the oldest person in the world whose birth can be authenticated.

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