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Obituaries

Joan Riudavets-Moll, 114; World's Oldest Man

March 08, 2004|Myrna Oliver | Times Staff Writer

Joan Riudavets-Moll, the world's oldest man, has died at the age of 114.

Riudavets died Friday at home in his native village, Es Migjorn Gran on Spain's Menorca island, of natural causes associated with aging. He had not been ill, reports indicated, and remained articulate and active until the day before his death when he slipped into a coma.

The Spanish shoemaker, who retired half a century ago, was born Dec. 15, 1889 -- the same year as Adolf Hitler and Charlie Chaplin.

Dr. L. Stephen Coles, co-founder of the Los Angeles Gerontology Research Group and surgical professor at the UCLA School of Medicine, said Riudavets' death means that Fred Hale Sr. probably will be designated as the world's oldest man. Hale, born Dec. 1, 1890, lives in New York.

Coles said that would create the unusual situation in which both the world's oldest man and the world's oldest woman are Americans. Currently, he said, the world's oldest person is Charlotte Benkner of Ohio, who was born Nov. 16, 1889.

Riudavets was designated the world's oldest man in October after the death of Japan's Yukichi Chuganji, 114, in September. The longevity title is bestowed, following authentication, by the London-based Guinness World Records.

Known for riding a bicycle well after he turned 100, Riudavets took walks and socialized with friends until near his death. He once attributed his long life to moderation, exercise, a healthy diet and a "calm life, good health and an excellent mood."

The Spaniard smoked but, as he said, "not too much." He played guitar and football, and slept as much as 14 hours a day.

"The most important thing is not to get older, but be in peace, and be friends with others, with respect to your family and peace for yourself," he told news media on his 114th birthday in December.

Riudavets saw myriad changes in technology during a life that touched three centuries, but remained fascinated by the airplane and even more so by electricity.

"The airplane was something incredible," he told Guinness, "but the most important change was electricity -- without doubt it changed everything."

A widower who outlived two of his three daughters, Riudavets is survived by two brothers, Pere, 104, and Josep, 98; a daughter, Paca; five grandsons; and six great-grandchildren.

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