At 117, Jamaican woman likely just became world’s oldest

DUANVALE, Jamaica (AP) – Violet Brown spent much of her life cutting sugarcane in the fields around her home in western Jamaica. She attended church regularly, avoids chicken and celebrated her 117th birthday last month.

On Saturday, she is believed to have become the world’s oldest living person following the death of Emma Morano of Italy, born November 29, 1899.

Brown told The Associated Press she is surprised but grateful to have lived this long.

“This is what God has given me, so I have to take it — long life,” Brown said in an interview in her home in the town of Duanvale.

Brown is considered to be the oldest person in the world with credible birth documentation, according to Robert Young, Director of the Supercentenarian Research and Database Division at Gerontology Research Group, a network of volunteer researchers into the world’s oldest people.

Its website says she was born on March 10, 1900.

Brown has not yet been declared the world’s oldest by Guinness World Records, considered to be the official arbiter of the oldest person title but Guinness depends heavily on Young’s group.

The world’s oldest person Violet Brown, centre, poses with her care givers Elaine Mcgrowder, left, and Dolet Grant at her home in Duanvale district of Trelawny, Jamaica. - AP
The world’s oldest person Violet Brown, centre, poses with her care givers Elaine Mcgrowder, left, and Dolet Grant at her home in Duanvale district of Trelawny, Jamaica. – AP

Young said he has met Brown and examined her birth certificate, which was issued by the British authorities who governed Jamaica at the time of her birth.

“She’s the oldest person that we have sufficient documentation for at this time,” Young said.

Guinness said it was researching a number of candidates for the new world’s oldest person title.

“It can be a uniquely complex and sometimes lengthy process,” Guinness spokeswoman Elizabeth Montoya said. “There is no confirmation of a new title holder until our thorough processes are complete.”

Brown has two caregivers and spends most of the day resting in the home she shares with her 97-year-old son.

The secret to long life is hard work, she said. “I was a cane farmer. I would do every work myself,” she said. “I worked, me and my husband, over that hill.”