LongeviQuest is delighted to announce that Saint Martin’s oldest living person turned 106 years old. Mrs. Barry was greeted by Saint Martin’s President Louis Mussington who celebrated her milestone as Mrs. Barry has witnessed Saint Martin’s rich history.
Dorcille Barry was born in Roseau, Dominica on 15 January 1918. She was a wife and a mother to 3 children.
Mrs. Barry currently lives in Saint-James, St. Martin, France, at the age of 106 years, 13 days.
While exceptional longevity has long been a fascination for many individuals, there appears to be some that believe that there has been a tapering of regarding how long a person can actually live. Is this true? Have we already observed the oldest person that will ever live?
The first centenarian and supercentenarian?
It is likely that the first centenarian lived in ancient times and belonged to the upper class. While achieving centenarianhood may have occurred then, such instances are unverifiable. Early verifiable centenarians appeared in the 17th century, and although Eilif Philipsen is recognized as the first fully verifiable centenarian, well-documented claims born earlier than him do exist. One of the earliest known documented centenarians was the French veteran André Levesque de La Souctière (1668-1772) (Antigny, n.y.). However, the vast majority of early centenarians is unknown, making it currently impossible to determine who the first centenarian was.
A recent revelation in the field of exceptional longevity posits that the first person to become a supercentenarian may not have been Geert Adriaans Boomgaard but rather another individual from the Netherlands. Unveiled at the 15th Supercentenarian Seminar in Paris by Dutch researcher van Dijk in November 2023 was the case of Hendrika Link-Scholte(n). She was presented in a poster presentation including documentation indicating that she may have lived to be a supercentenarian. While further research is needed to fully authenticate her age, she could potentially be considered for inclusion on some lists with lower standards. What will surprise most is that she was allegedly born in 1686, more than a century prior to Boomgaard, and died in 1797.
The recognized titleholders as the oldest person ever (and others that have been considered for the title)
The (so far) first fully verified person to reach age 110 was Geert Adriaans Boomgaard, a Dutch man born in 1788 who died at the age of 110 years, 135 days. Remarkably, Boomgaard was a soldier in Napoleon’s army. He was born and died in Groningen, the son of a boat captain, and would himself also follow in his father’s footsteps. Late in life, Boomgaard would be recognized for his longevity and has long been a validated supercentenarian. In 2021, a thorough validation of his age was presented (Chambre et al., 2021).
Boomgaard’s reign as the oldest person ever would stand for only four years when Margaret Ann Neve of the small island Guernsey of the Channel Islands would surpass his age (Poulain et al., 2021). Neve led a life of relative leisure, born in St Peter Port in 1792 into a family of high standing. She was married but didn’t have any children. Neve enjoyed traveling and learning languages. As with Boomgaard, Neve started receiving accolades for her longevity after passing the century mark. She passed away of natural causes in 1903, aged 110 years, 321 days.
After the death of Neve, no other person would reach supercentenarian status for the next 22 years. Although Ann Pouder, notably “verified” by Alexander Graham Bell, was previously recognized as a supercentenarian, her age was disputed and later revalidated by me and Dr. Andrew Holmes, confirming her age as “only” 109.
Louisa Thiers, born in Whitesboro, New York, in 1814 and the daughter of an American Revolutionary War veteran, became the first person to reach the age of 111. Like Boomgaard and Neve, Thiers was born into an affluent family. She was married and had five children. Thiers was also a fervent supporter of women’s emancipation. Louisa Thiers passed away in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1926, at the age of 111 years and 138 days.
Thiers’ successor as the oldest living person would also become the next holder of the title as the world’s oldest person ever. Delina Filkins was born in Stark, New York, in 1815. In contrast to her successors, Filkins came from a humbler background, working at her family farm until marrying at a young age and continuing to farm with her husband in the same area. Filkins had six children. In remarkable health well into her centenarian years, she even underwent surgery for a hernia at the age of 107. As the first person to reach both ages 112 and 113, Delina Filkins was an extreme outlier of her time. She passed away in Richfield Springs, New York, at the age of 113 years and 214 days, and her record as the oldest person ever would stand for the next 54 years.
For several years, the person acknowledged to have succeeded Delina Filkins as the oldest person ever was Fannie Thomas, born in 1867 and passing away in 1981. She was exactly as old as she claimed, reaching 113 years and 273 days. In fact, the year 1980 saw three individuals surpassing Filkins’ mark. Anna Murphy claimed to have been born on 15 April 1867, nine days before Fannie Thomas, and died two days before Christmas in 1980 at the claimed age of 113 years and 252 days. However, her birth record contradicts this, supporting instead that she was born on 25 April 1867, making her one day younger than Thomas. Despite this, neither of these two women would hold the title of the oldest person ever. Still, at the time of their deaths, both were the oldest known individuals to have ever died.
Instead, Eliza Underwood, an African American woman born in Clinton, North Carolina, as a daughter to recently freed slaves, would be the next holder of the title. Underwood led a life of hard work, starting to work at the age of eight when she lived with and worked for a family of white neighbors. She married and had one daughter, adopting another, working in the fields and weaving cloth. Notably, she boarded a plane on her own at the age of 111 and flew to Washington, D.C., to reside with an adopted daughter. She later died here, just five days after Fannie Thomas, at the age of 113 years and 318 days. However, there is a reservation that Underwood might have been even older since most documentation from her early life supports a birth in 1865 or 1866.
The next person in line was another American, Augusta Holtz. Holtz was born in present-day Poland in 1871 and emigrated to the United States in 1873 with her family. Settling in Illinois, Holtz grew up on a farm. She later married a carpenter, moved to St. Louis, Missouri, and had four children. Like the other individuals mentioned, Holtz enjoyed good health well into her centenarian years and only moved into a geriatric home at the age of 109. Augusta Holtz passed away in Florissant, Missouri, in 1986 at the age of 115 years and 79 days.
While Jeanne Calment is widely recognized as the current holder of the title as the oldest person ever, there is a possibility that she wasn’t the direct successor to Holtz. Support for Easter Wiggins of Rolling Fork, Mississippi has been growing in recent years. Wiggins claimed to have been born four months prior to Calment and died in 1990 at the alleged age of 116. However, her validation is not complete, so she will, for now, remain an addendum.
And finally, Jeanne Calment. Despite some attempts to cast doubt on her age in recent years, she remains one of the most thoroughly validated supercentenarians of all time. Calment was born in Arles, France, in 1875 and died in her hometown in 1997 at the age of 122 years and 164 days, pushing the limit of the maximum known human lifespan by seven years. She came from a well-off family and never had to work, instead pursuing various hobbies. She married a double second cousin and had one daughter. Calment outlived both her daughter and her only grandchild. She moved into a nursing home when she was approaching 110 and remained in remarkably good health until she suffered a fall a month before her 115th birthday, after which her health very slowly deteriorated.
Will the age of Jeanne Calment be surpassed?
The individuals arguing that Jeanne Calment was actually her own daughter in disguise allege that reaching the age of 122 is statistically impossible (Zak & Gibbs, 2020). Others, including myself, argue that this isn’t the case, and it is rather a question of chance and an individual having the correct circumstances to allow them to live exceptionally long.
Given that supercentenarian one-year mortality might plateau at 50 percent, the chance that any supercentenarian would surpass the final age of Calment is approximately 1 in 10,000. This number might seem extreme but considering that each current birth cohort produces more than 150 to 200 verifiable supercentenarians, it won’t be unexpected if Calment’s age is surpassed by more than one person during this century. Still, no person out of the currently more than 2,500 LongeviQuest recognized deceased supercentenarians has even come close to surpassing Calment, with the second and third oldest individuals ever, Kane Tanaka and Sarah Knauss, both falling three years and two months short of Calment’s mark.
Scholars argue that there might exist an upper limit in lifespan, and serious medical and/or technological breakthroughs might be needed to exceed this theoretical limit (Blagosklonny, 2021; Gavrilova & Gavrilov, 2020). Considering that human knowledge and expertise are constantly increasing, it might be a given that the human lifespan will sooner or later be extendable.
Given these facts, the answer to the question of whether Jeanne Calment’s age will be surpassed is that yes, it is highly likely that her age will be surpassed this century.
Presented below is a table for how long each mentioned titleholder’s mark as the oldest person ever stood:
Chambre, D., Jeune, B., Poulain, M. (2021). Geert Adriaans Boomgaard, the First Supercentenarian in History?. In: Maier, H., Jeune, B., Vaupel, J.W. (Eds). Exceptional Lifespans. Demographic Research Monographs. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-49970-9_15
Gavrilova, N. S., & Gavrilov, L. A. (2020). Are We Approaching a Biological Limit to Human Longevity?. The journals of gerontology. Series A, Biological sciences and medical sciences, 75(6), 1061–1067. https://doi.org/10.1093/gerona/glz164
Poulain, M., Chambre, D., Jeune, B. (2021). Margaret Ann Harvey Neve – 110 Years Old in 1903. The First Documented Female Supercentenarian. In: Maier, H., Jeune, B., Vaupel, J.W. (Eds). Exceptional Lifespans. Demographic Research Monographs. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-49970-9_16
van Dijk, J. S. (2023, November 16-17). Hendrika Link – Scholte(n) (1686-1797). Earliest Supercentenarian Ever? [Poster Presentation]. 15th Supercentenarian Seminar, Paris, France.
Andree Bertoletto was born in La Chapelle-Anthenaise, Mayenne, Pays de la Loire, France on 1 January 1911. She was a sister and a wife. At 105, a flood forced Bertoletto to relinquish her independent life in her own home. She found comfort and support at “La douceur de vivre,” a nursing home in Montsurs.
Andree Bertoletto currently lives in Montsurs, Mayenne, Pays de la Loire, France. She is currently the second-oldest known living person in Pays de la Loire, as well as the second-oldest known living person in France, after Marie-Rose Tessier.
LongeviQuest is saddened to report the passing of Andrée Guyon. She was born in the commune of Aize, Indre Department, Centre-Val de Loire Region, France on 6 June 1911. She passed away in Saint-Éliph, Eure-et-Loir Department, Centre-Val de Loire Region, France, on 25 November 2023, at the age of 112 years. Following her passing, Lucienne Moreau succeeded her as the oldest living resident of the Centre-Val de Loire Region. At the time of her death, Guyon was the third-oldest living person in France, behind Marie-Rose Tessier and Andrée Bertoletto. Her age has been validated by the European Supercentenarian Organisation (ESO).
Guyon got married in 1937 and had two daughters. She moved to Saint-Éliph in 1941 and worked as a cook for a family in Champrond-en-Gâtine, while her husband managed the forestry estate. She continued to work as a cook until she was 99 and moved back to Saint-Éliph.
In June 2011, she celebrated her 100th birthday with 80 family members. As a centenarian, she had six grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren, and two great-great-grandchildren. In the winter of 2015, Guyon underwent a leg amputation and required a wheelchair. However, she remained optimistic and attributed her longevity to good humor and hard work. At the age of 108, she was still interested in the news from France and around the world.
LongeviQuest is extending our deepest condolences to the bereaved family and friends of Mrs. Andrée Guyon.
LongeviQuest representatives are attending the 15th Supercentenarian Seminar in Paris today. Organized by the French Institute for Demographic Studies (INED), the event is an opportunity for leading supercentenarian researchers to convene and discuss the latest research on the world’s oldest people. LongeviQuest Scientific Advisor Jimmy Lindberg, MSc, was the second speaker on the agenda. She presented her research on supercentenarians from Sweden, her home country.
LongeviQuest also participated in the traditional academic poster session, in which Lindberg was joined by Dr. Andrew Holmes, the representative of the European Supercentenarian Organisation on the Global Validation Commission. LongeviQuest’s poster featured corrections to the historical world’s oldest people list, most researched by Lindberg and approved by the Global Validation Commission. The retroactively recognized world’s oldest people are:
Conventions such as INED’s Supercentenarian Seminar enable collaboration between supercentenarian researchers from around the world. LongeviQuest is pleased to participate and we thank the INED and the International Database on Longevity for hosting the event.
Mrs. Fibleuil was born in the French overseas department of Martinique, on 10 December 1912, where she was the oldest living person at the time of her death.
At some point she married a farmer with a surname Etienne, and the couple had eight children together. Her husband focused on his farming activities, while Philomene was in charge of selling the products to the market.
On 23 September 2021, she became the oldest known living woman in Martinique, following the death of 110-year-old Vincente Constance Newton.
On 5 October 2021, she became the oldest known living person in Martinique, following the death of 112-year-old Jules Theobald.
Mrs. Fibleuil passed away on 11 June 2023, at 110 years old, in Moise neighbourhood, Le Robert, Martinique, France.
LongeviQuest offers our condolences to her family and loved ones.
Mr. Ludwig was born on 6 June 1912 in the commune of La Ferté-sous-Jouarre, Seine-et-Marne département, Île-de-France region, France.
In 1939, he was mobilized for World War II and experienced all of its consequences, even being made a prisoner at the time. He was a member of the French Resistance in the east of the country, joining the Zone Libre (in France) to shelter his family.
Ludwig finished his career as a middle manager, retired in 1972, and moved with his wife to Longué-Jumelles.
In 2015, he moved into a nursing home in Longué-Jumelles, where he has been celebrating his past birthdays since then.
LongeviQuest send our warmest congratulations to Mr. André Ludwig and his family. We wish you good health and happiness.
For more information, please view André Ludwig’s Directory Profile here.
The LongeviQuest Global Validation Commission has unanimously voted to uphold the human longevity record set by Madame Jeanne Calment, who died in 1997 at the age of 122.
Mme. Calment’s age validation had been challenged by Dr. Nikolay Zak and Dr. Philip Gibbs, who submitted a 31-page devalidation report to the Global Validation Commission. The two researchers later publicly released a summary of their evidence.
Mme. Calment’s status as a supercentenarian was first recognized in the late 1980s, and her validation was retroactively recognized upon the founding of LongeviQuest. The LongeviQuest Charter requires unanimous approval to retroactively devalidate a case, a threshold that had been met only once previously. In the Calment case, the Commission unanimously voted in the other direction, confirming Mme. Calment’s status as the human longevity recordholder.
The Global Validation Commission is composed of age validation experts from Asia, the Americas, and Europe. Expressing the collective view of the group, one Commissioner explained, “Having reviewed the devalidation report for Jeanne Calment, we found that on balance the report was conjectural and selective in the evidence it presented. As a result, the research presented is considered insufficient for devalidation.”
LongeviQuest Chief Executive Ben Meyers, who is not a member of the Global Validation Commission, stated the following: “We have built into our process a high threshold to retroactively devalidate a recognized age claim, and this decision is an example of the process functioning as intended. I am pleased that the Commissioners evaluated the research submitted by Dr. Zak and Dr. Gibbs without preconceived biases. The Commissioners’ thorough analysis has further confirmed LongeviQuest’s recognition of Madame Calment’s extraordinary age. We thank Dr. Zak and Dr. Gibbs for submitting their research to the Commission. Should their research be supplemented by additional evidence in the future, they are welcome to contact us again. Factoring in all currently available evidence, LongeviQuest considers this matter settled.”