Californian Whose Family Says He Was 117, Dies

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -

A Californian man whose family said he was 117 years old, has died. If accurate, his advanced age would have likely made him the oldest person on earth at the time of his death.

Andrew Hatch passed away peacefully on Monday at the Oakland home of daughter Delane Sims, who had been taking care of him there for the past two years, Sims said.

The lack of a birth certificate kept Hatch from being officially recognized as the oldest person alive by the organizations that acknowledge such things, though for years he had had driver’s licenses and other official documents with his age on them. His family said he was born in Louisiana on Oct. 7, 1898, in a place and an era when birth certificates were rare for poor black children.

Hatch said he never cared about the recognition. “I don’t like a fuss,” he said at age 111 in 2009. “I’m still a youngster.”

Hatch’s family moved from Louisiana to Houston when he was a child. He traveled the world in the merchant marine as a young man.

He had been living in Oakland since 1933.

Family members said he remained fiercely independent until well past 110, living on his own in a senior apartment complex as recently as 2014.

“He had still been talking and interacting, right up until this last week,” Sims said. “We were so blessed to have had him with us these past couple of years, creating new memories every day.”

Guinness World Records currently recognizes 116-year-old Susannah Mushatt Jones of Brooklyn, New York, as the oldest person alive. Jones gained the distinction of being Guinness’s official oldest person when 117-year-old Misao Okawa died in Tokyo this April.