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BIOGRAPHY

Adelina Domingues was born in Brava, Cape Verde, on 19 February 1888, to parents Francesco Ingargiola (1863-1951), an Italian sea captain, and Matilda Coehlo (1863-1920), a Cape Verdean woman. Her earliest memory was from when she was four years old, where she recalled riding down to the seaside in a horse and buggy with her father.

At the age of 18, she married José Manuel Domingues, a whaling captain, and the couple emigrated to the United States. Settling in New Bedford, Massachusetts in 1907, they would have four children, and Adelina would find work as a seamstress. Her first son died at the age of two, and another son and daughter both died as teenagers, meaning that only one of her children survived to adulthood.

Following the death of her husband in 1950, Domingues moved to Southern California to be closer to her son, Frank, who would later die in 1998. According to relatives, Frank’s death had a detrimental effect on his mother’s health, who was then aged 110.

In 1988, in commemoration of her 100th birthday, her picture was featured on the Today Show, and was congratulated by presenter Willard Scott. As a centenarian, she continued to vote actively in elections, and often wrote letters of admiration to Ronald Reagan. She remained fully independent and lived on her own until the age of 107, by which point she moved into a nursing home. At the age of 110, she was said to be in excellent physical condition, although her memory sometimes failed her. In her later years, her main health complaints were blindness and hearing loss.

Adelina Domingues died in Spring Valley, California, USA on 21 August 2002, during an afternoon nap at her nursing home, aged 114 years, 183 days. According to relatives, her health had been declining for about a month prior to her death.

RECOGNITION

On 18 March 2002, following the death of Maud Farris-Luse, Domingues became a candidate for the title of world’s oldest living person, as she and her family claimed she was born in February 1887, although her baptismal record from Cape Verde would later reveal she was actually born in 1888, making her younger than the then-Guinness World Records titleholder, Kamato Hongo. She would, however, still go on to receive significant media attention for being the oldest living person in the United States, following the death of Grace Clawson just two months later. Both Domingues and Clawson would later receive posthumous recognition as the oldest living people, as Hongo’s claim was eventually disputed by researchers in 2012.

ATTRIBUTION

* “Family: Woman is world’s oldest” – The Daily News, 23 March 2002

* “Adelina Domingues, oldest American, dies at 114” – Enterprise-Record, 24 August 2002

* Adelina Domingues, 114; Oldest Person in the U.S. –  Los Angeles Times, 24 August 2002

* “Adelina Domingues (1888–2002)“– Dictionary of African Christian Biography

GALLERY

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