There is always “the oldest living person” somewhere. Sooner or later, they will pass on, and it is someone else’s turn to be the oldest. But the demise of Nabi Tajima of Japan would not be worthy of further comment, except that it appears as though with a birth date of 4 August 1900, she was the last living person known to have been born in the 19th century (the 20th century begins in 1901, to be clear). To our knowledge, there are no longer any people born on or before 1900 living anymore. She was said to have more than 160 descendants, counting children, grand children, and great grand children.
In 1900, the year of her birth, she lived in a world pre-dating Jack London’s Call of the Wild, Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz; just before the days of films and the existence of movie theatres; there were no airplanes, zippers or toasters; no Panama Canal, no Australia, and no radio or TV — to say nothing of internet. Electronic communication was by Morse code over telegraph wires. Transport was either by horse or other beasts of burden, unless you were walking or riding a bike.
Males always seem to die younger than women, and I have found that in going through “oldest living persons” lists, oldest males are usually younger than oldest females. Of the 100 oldest people still living, only 7 are male right now. 1 in 1000 people living past age 100 live past their 110th birthday. Worldwide, there are likely as many as 600 people alive past age 110. Going by the 100 oldest living persons’ list referred to above, the number that can be verified may not be much over 100.
Nabi died of natural causes yesterday in a nursing home where she had been living since 2002.
12 thoughts on “In memoriam: World’s oldest living person, dead at 117”
She was lucky in a way.