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Obituaries

Maud Farris-Luse; Oldest Person at 115

March 20, 2002|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Maud Farris-Luse, recognized last year by the Guinness Book of Records as the world's oldest person, has died. She was 115.

She died Monday from complications of pneumonia at a health center in Coldwater, Mich., south of Grand Rapids, where she lived in a nursing home. She had been hospitalized Sunday night.

Farris-Luse was 115 years and 56 days old.

"It was her time," said great-granddaughter Laurie Ferris, 32. "She passed away very, very peacefully."

In June, Guinness editors recognized Farris-Luse as the oldest person whose age could be verified. Although her birth certificate had been lost, the editors authenticated her age through other documents, including U.S. Census Bureau records and her 1903 marriage license.

Described as sharp and fiercely independent, Farris-Luse lived alone and cared for herself until she broke her hip in a 1991 fall at her house. She then moved to the nursing home. She remained mentally alert until about five years ago.

By the time of her 115th birthday in January, relatives said, she could not see or hear them or understand what was happening, but she still seemed to enjoy visitors.

"She was just a wonderful woman, loved her family, always happy," said Ferris, whose branch of the family uses that spelling instead of Farris.

Farris-Luse was born Jan. 21, 1887, in Morley, about 40 miles north of Grand Rapids. She married Jason Farris, a farmer and laborer, in 1903, when he was 24 and she was 16. They lived in Angola, Ind., before moving to Coldwater in 1923. They had seven children.

Farris died at age 72 in 1951, when his wife was 64. She then married Walter Luse, who died three years into their marriage.

Over the years, Farris-Luse worked as a clerk in a factory, a hotel maid, a baker and a restaurant cook, retiring in her 70s. She outlived all but one of her children.

The world's oldest woman is now 114-year-old Kamato Hongo of Japan, which is also home to the world's oldest man, 112-year-old Yukichi Chuganji, according Dr. Stephen Coles of UCLA, a member of the Gerontology Research Group, which tracks information on people documented to be 110 or older.

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