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Marie-Louise Meilleur, 117; Listed as Oldest Person in World

April 18, 1998| From Associated Press

CORBEIL, Canada — Marie-Louise Febronie Meilleur, who was deemed the world's oldest person and believed that hard work was the secret to a long life, has died. She was 117.

Meilleur died Thursday at a nursing home here, 250 miles north of Toronto, her daughter Olive Therrien said. A blood clot lodged in Meilleur's lung last week.

It was not clear if Meilleur ever realized she had been designated the world's oldest person by the Guinness Book of World Records. She was nearly blind and deaf.

Meilleur's death came one day after 118-year-old Felicia Young Cormier died in Crowley, La. Despite her reported age, Cormier lacked the official birth certificate required by Guinness to prove she was the world's oldest person.

Meilleur became Guinness' oldest person in August with the death of France's Jeanne Calment at age 122. Guinness Media Inc. said Friday that the oldest living person is now Sarah Knauss of Allentown, Pa., who is also 117 but one month younger than Meilleur.

Born Aug. 29, 1880, in Kamouraska, Quebec, Meilleur had 10 children from two marriages, only four of whom survive her, Therrien said.

Meilleur made headlines when she tried to find a wife for her 81-year-old son. Ann Landers' column called her "Mother of the Year" for that project.

Meilleur had 85 grandchildren, 80 great-grandchildren, 57 great-great-grandchildren and four great-great-great-grandchildren.

"She said hard work could never kill a person," her 72-year-old daughter, Rita Gutzman, said.

When once told she was the oldest person in Canada, Meilleur responded, "Poor Canada."

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