With the death of a Michigan woman Wednesday night, Brooklyn gains the distinction of hosting the world’s oldest person for the first time in modern recorded history.
Susannah Mushatt Jones, who turns 116 in July, lives in a senior center in Starrett City where she is treated as a mini-celebrity. The world’s most senior resident does not have children and divorced her husband soon after they married, but she adopted her siblings’ families.
New York has had several residents who held the title as oldest in the world — including one in Rochester in 2002 and Rockland County. But this is the first time a Brooklyn dweller, or of New York City for that matter, has held the title.
An African-American daughter of sharecroppers from the South, Miss Susie, as Jones is known, told reporters at her 114th birthday party last year that she only takes one blood pressure medication and a daily vitamin.
Born July 6, 1899, in Lowndes County, Alabama, the third of 11 children, Jones moved to New York in 1923 to work as a nanny, and used her wages to bring the rest of her family north.
Miss Susie retired in 1965 but remain independent well into her 90s. She has lived on the fifth floor of the Vandalia Houses for the past 30 years, and she stood on patrol in the building’s front lobby until she was 106.
She gained the title as the world’s senior citizen, according to the Gerontology Research Group, which researches supercentenarians, or people 110 and older, after Jeralean Talley died at her Detroit home. Talley turned 116 last month.
“People asked her, ‘How do you feel about being the oldest person in the world?’” Talley’s daughter said. “She said, ‘I still feel the same. That’s G-d’s work, not mine.’”