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World's oldest person, last known to be born in 1800s dies

By: The Associated Press
April 15, 2017 Updated: April 15, 2017 at 10:16 pm
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Emma Morano poses next to a picture depicting her where she was young. Surrounded by relatives and neighbors, Morano was the first of eight children, all of whom have since died. One sister lived to be 102. In 1926, she married and in 1937 her only child was born but died a few months later. Antonino Di Marco, AP

ROME — Emma Morano, at 117 the world's oldest person who is also believed to have been the last surviving person born in the 1800s, died Saturday at her home in northern Italy, her physician said.

Dr. Carlo Bava told The Associated Press by phone that Morano's caretaker had called him to say she had stopped breathing in the afternoon while sitting in an armchair at her home in Verbania, a town on Italy's Lake Maggiore.

Italy World's Oldest Person
FILE - In this Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016 file photo, Emma Morano, 117 years old, blows candles on the day of her birthday in Verbania, Italy. An Italian doctor says Saturday, April 15, 2017 Emma Morano, at 117 the world's oldest person, has died in her home in northern Italy. Dr. Carlo Bava told The Associated Press by telephone that Morano's caretaker called him to say the woman had passed away Saturday afternoon while sitting in an armchair in her home in Verbania, a town on Lake Maggiore. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni, File) 

Bava said he had last seen his patient on Friday when "she thanked me and held my hand," as she did every time he called on her. While Morano had been increasingly spending more time sleeping and less time speaking in recent weeks, she had still eaten her daily raw egg and biscuits that day, he said.

A woman in Jamaica, Violet Brown, who was born in that Caribbean island on March 10, 1900, is now considered the oldest known person in the world, according to a list kept by the Gerontology Research Group. Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness tweeted his congratulations to her.

Morano's doctor, who lives a few blocks away from his patient, had been her physician for nearly a quarter of a century.

Italy World's Oldest Person
FILE - In this Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016 file photo, Emma Morano sits in her home on the day of her 117th birthday in Verbania, Italy. An Italian doctor says Emma Morano, at 117 the world's oldest person, has died in her home in northern Italy. Dr. Carlo Bava told The Associated Press by telephone that Morano's caretaker called him to say the woman had passed away Saturday afternoon while sitting in an armchair in her home in Verbania, a town on Lake Maggiore. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni, File) 

Morano, born on Nov. 29, 1899, had been living in a tidy, one-room apartment, where she was kept company by her caregiver and two elderly nieces.

"She didn't suffer. I'm happy she didn't suffer but passed away that way, tranquilly," Bava said Saturday.

Italy World's Oldest Person
FILE - In this Friday, June 26, 2015 file photo, Emma Morano sits in her apartment in Verbania, Italy. An Italian doctor says Saturday, April 15, 2017 Emma Morano, at 117 the world's oldest person, has died in her home in northern Italy. Dr. Carlo Bava told The Associated Press by telephone that Morano's caretaker called him to say the woman had passed away Saturday afternoon while sitting in an armchair in her home in Verbania, a town on Lake Maggiore. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni, File) 

He said she had been her usual chatterbox self until a few weeks ago. Since then it was clear, "she was slowly fading away," and spending nearly all day in bed, Bava said.

Last fall on her birthday, Morano declared: "I'm happy I have turned 117!"

Bava has previously told the AP that Morano lost a son to crib death when he was six months old.

Morano left her husband in 1938 because he would beat her. She "abandoned the husband in the Fascist era, when women were supposed to be very submissive," Bava said in a 2015 interview. "She was always very decisive."

Morano began working in a factory making jute bags when she was 16. Then she worked at a hotel, working way beyond the usual retirement age.

Beside work, she enjoyed herself. She was considered a good dancer with a beautiful singing voice in her youth.

She also defied health advice, Bava said Saturday. Some doctors had warned her against eating three eggs daily, which she did for years, but she ignored their advice.

Researchers from Harvard Medical School visited her in 2014 as part of a study into immunity to diseases, the Italian news agency ANSA said.

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