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Susie Potts Gibson, 115; One of Oldest U.S. Women Attributed Longevity to Vinegar and Pickles

February 18, 2006|Mary Rourke | Times Staff Writer

Susie Potts Gibson, the youngest of three U.S. women verified to be 115, died Thursday, according to Nancy Paetz, a granddaughter.

Gibson died of natural causes at an assisted living facility in Tuscumbia, Ala., where she was a resident from about 106, Paetz said. For many years before that, Gibson lived alone in the house that had been her home for about 80 years.

She died three days after another 115-year-old woman, Bettie Wilson, died in New Albany, Miss. Both women were born in Mississippi, but Wilson was one month older than Gibson. A third woman, Elizabeth Bolden of Memphis, Tenn., the oldest of the three by one month, survives her younger peers.

With Gibson's death, Bolden becomes the second-oldest person in the world with documentation, according the Gerontology Research Group of Los Angeles. The oldest living person, also a woman, is 116-year-old Maria Capovilla of Ecuador.

Born Susan Potts, Oct. 31, 1890, in Corinth, Miss., Gibson was the child of a banker, Paetz said. Among her memorable experiences as a young woman was a cross-country trip she vividly recalled winning in 1912. She said she was in a movie theater in California when an announcer interrupted the show to tell the audience that the Titanic was sinking off the coast of Newfoundland.

She married James Gibson, a pharmacist, and the couple moved to Sheffield, Ala. Gibson outlived her husband as well as their son, James.

When Gibson was 90, she still took her boat out alone to go fishing, Paetz said.

She also enjoyed hosting bridge parties at her home and did all the cooking.

She gardened and stayed active with the women's group at her church.

Asked the secret to a long life, Gibson recommended frequent doses of vinegar. She put it on turnip greens and nearly everything else, Paetz said. She also advised eating pickles.

Paetz, however, said Gibson's longevity had to do with her basic rule about spending time.

"My grandmother put things in two pots: what she had to do and what she wanted to do," Paetz said. "Most of the time, what she wanted to do took priority. As a result she was happy."

Gibson is survived by two grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

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