20 September 1888Keeling Branch, Tennessee, United States


1 March 2001Hermitage Springs, Tennessee, United States



John Painter

John George Painter was an American supercentenarian who was the oldest-known living man in the world at the time of his death. He is the oldest validated man ever from the U.S. state of Tennessee.

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John George Painter was born in the Keeling Branch community in Jackson County, Tennessee, USA, on 20 September 1888. As a child, he attended school and worked on the farm.

In 1917, at the age of 29, he enlisted in the United States Army. As a result, he went to France, where he hauled ammunition and field guns to the front lines at the forest of Argonne. Eighty days after the armistice was declared on November 11, 1918, Painter received the highest French honor, the Légion d’honneur award. He also received the Croix de Guerre and was one of only six Tennessee World War I veterans to be awarded the Tennessee Distinguished Award. He was discharged from service on April 12, 1919, after serving in the army for two years.

On 8 January 1920, he married Gillie May Watson (1904–1989), a woman he knew since his childhood. The couple had two daughters (adopted according to some sources). After the war, he worked as a blacksmith.

His father died at 99. Several of his siblings died in their 90s, and two sisters died as centenarians: Maggie Dee (1890–1993) died at 103, and Stella Mae (1899–2004) died at 105.

Painter died of a heart attack in Hermitage Springs, Tennessee, USA, on 1 March 2001 at the age of 112 years, 162 days. At the time of his death, he was also the oldest living American veteran.

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On 25 December 1998, following the death of 113-year-old Walter Charles Richardson of Illinois, he became the oldest living man in the United States, at the age of 110.

On 15 November 1999, following the death of 111-year-old Antonio Urrea Hernández of Spain, he became the world’s oldest living man, at the age of 111 years, 56 days.