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Besse Cooper

Validated By: On Date: Feb. 10th 2023

Besse Berry Cooper (née Brown) was a validated American supercentenarian who was the world's oldest living person from 21 June 2011 to her death. After the death of Maria Gomes Valentim on 21 June 2011, Cooper became recognized as the world's oldest living person. On 26 August 2012, Cooper celebrated her 116th birthday and became the seventh person in history who reached this age.


Besse Cooper was born as Besse Berry Brown in Sullivan, Tennessee, USA on 26 August 1896 to Richard Brown and Barsheba Angeline Berry. She graduated in 1916 from East Tennessee Normal School (now East Tennessee State University). She worked as a teacher. She moved to Georgia in 1917 and married Luther Cooper in 1924. He died in 1963. Besse and Luther Cooper had four children: Angeline (born 1929), Luther Jr. (born 1932), Sidney (born 1935), and Nancy (born 1944).

Besse Cooper died on 4 December 2012 at her nursing home in Monroe, Georgia. She was survived by all of her children, 11 grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren, and two great-great-grandchildren.

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Mrs. Cooper was validated by the Gerontology Research Group in 2006.  In 2009, after Beatrice Farve died, Besse became the oldest resident of Georgia, and became the oldest living person after Maria Gomes Valentim died on 21 June 2011.

Cooper was the seventh person to reach the age of 116 or more; after the passing of Chiyono Hasegawa, she became the last verified person born in 1896. She is also one of the three people to have lost the title of the oldest person but later regained it, the other two being Elizabeth Bolden and Jeanne Calment.

She died at the age of 116 years, 100 days as the eighth-oldest person ever recorded and the last person born in 1896, as well as the last living person born in the United States in the second term of Grover Cleveland, although Dina Manfredini also lived in the United States but was born in Italy during Cleveland’s second presidency.