South Carolina woman ranked as oldest American dies at age 114

Reuters News
Posted: Jan 06, 2013 10:35 PM

By Alex Dobuzinskis

(Reuters) - A 114-year-old South Carolina woman who was born when William McKinley was president of the United States and had ranked as the oldest known living American for just over two weeks, has died, according to her daughter.

Mamie Rearden died on Wednesday at a hospital in Augusta, Georgia, about 20 miles south of her South Carolina home, her youngest daughter, Sara Rearden, told Reuters.

She had recently broken her hip and was having difficulty breathing earlier in the week, her daughter said, adding, "I was looking right at her when she took her last breath."

Even at Rearden's advanced age, she was younger than the oldest known living person in the world, identified as a 115-year-old Japanese man, Jiroemon Kimura, according to the Gerontology Research Group.

The group's figures show Rearden became the oldest living person in the United States just 16 days before her death.

Rearden was born on September 7, 1898, in Edgefield, South Carolina, where she was raised and lived all her life, her daughter said. She was a school teacher early in life, but after getting married and starting a family she left the job to become a homemaker, and went on to have 11 children in all.

She obtained her first driver's license at age 65, and at about the same time became a case worker for an anti-poverty program, according to her daughter. Her husband, Oacy Rearden, died in 1979 at the age of 88.

Rearden lived by her Baptist faith, her daughter said.

"She was the type who would say, 'Do unto others as you want them to do by you,' and later she changed that, which is interesting, to 'do unto others as they ought to do by you,'" Sara Rearden said.

Rearden became the oldest known living person in the United States after the December 17 death of 115-year-old Dina Manfredini in Iowa. At the time of her death, Manfredini also ranked as the world's oldest person, according to Guinness World Records.

(Reporting and writing by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Steve Gorman and Eric Walsh)