DENTON, N.C. — Maggie Grubb Lambeth, the last of the sisters believed to be the world's oldest identical twins, died Tuesday at a nursing home.
The sisters, featured on Japanese television, in an American documentary and in the Guinness Book of World Records, were rarely separated throughout their lives until Allie Grubb Hill's death Jan. 10, three days shy of her 106th birthday. Her sister was never told.
Although they didn't have a tooth between them and shunned dentures, both centenarians attributed their longevity to chewing gum, which they consumed at a prodigious rate.
In their 103rd year, Guinness proclaimed them the world's oldest twins, President Ronald Reagan telegraphed his greetings, a Japanese TV crew showed up at the nursing home where they lived and the National Institutes of Health featured them in a film on people living to 100.
Mrs. Hill, the older twin by a few minutes, enjoyed the spotlight, while Mrs. Lambeth was more reserved.
Both married as young women and had long outlived their husbands. They farmed, raised children and well into their 90s could be found digging sweet potatoes, carrots, eggplant and corn in their gardens just down the road from each other in this rural area northeast of Charlotte.
They remained healthy until Mrs. Lambeth broke her pelvis in 1984. After that both declined and they were admitted to the nursing home, where they lived only a hallway apart.
At their deaths, they had 180 direct descendants: 16 living children, 48 grandchildren, 85 great-grandchildren and 31 great-great grandchildren.