August 29, 2010

USA: Besse Cooper Got By With A Bit of Family Help - To Blow Out 114 Candles

MONROE, Georgia / The Walton Tribune / August 29, 2010

Cooper: One for the record books

By Stephen Milligan

    RECORD OF THE YEARS:  Besse Cooper of Monroe is the third oldest person in the world.     Friends, family, and Monroe Mayor Greg Thompson celebrated her 114th birthday Thursday.

Celebrating her birthday Thursday, Besse Cooper needed a bit of help from family to blow out the candles on her birthday cake — all 114 of them.

Cooper celebrated her 114th birthday in style Aug. 26, marking her as the third oldest person in the world, the second in the country and the oldest person still living in Georgia.

“I feel great,” Cooper said on reaching her birthday. “It’s always a happy day.”

Although Cooper has been alive long enough to see the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression, two world wars, the moon landing and so many other of the historic events that marked the 20th Century, she’s still alert. Her hearing is failing, but she seemed pleased with all the attention, as TV stations, newspapers and even the “Guinness Book of World Records” came to witness her big day.

“Oh, good,” Cooper said smartly when told Mayor Greg Thompson wished her well on her birthday. Not only that, the mayor also read a proclamation making Aug. 26 Besse Cooper Day in Monroe.

For reaching 114, Cooper will appear in the new 2011 edition of the “Guinness Book of World Records,” set to come out later this year, as one of the top 10 oldest people in the world. Last year, she wasn’t even on the list.

“Not a lot of people turn 114,” said Robert Young, the editorial consultant on gerontology for Guinness.

Only about one in a billion reach that age.”

Cooper could only shake her head when asked if she ever though she’d reach such an age.

“Of course, I didn’t,” Cooper said, but said she was glad to see another birthday. “A lot of people came. My children came. I got letters and cards. That’s the best part of it all.”

© 2010 The Walton Tribune