World’s oldest woman dies at 117

World Today

FILE - In this Feb. 27, 2013 file photo, Japan's Misao Okawa, then 114, poses with the certificate of the world's oldest woman, which was presented to her by Guinness World Records Japan Country Manager Erika Ogawa, unseen, at a nursing home in Osaka, western Japan. The world's oldest person has died nearly a month after celebrating her 117th birthday. (AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye, File) In this Feb. 27, 2013 file photo, Japan’s Misao Okawa, then 114, poses with the certificate of the world’s oldest woman, which was presented to her by Guinness World Records Japan Country Manager Erika Ogawa, unseen, at a nursing home in Osaka, western Japan. The world’s oldest person has died nearly a month after celebrating her 117th birthday. (AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye, File)

The world’s oldest person, a Japanese woman, died Wednesday, a few weeks after celebrating her 117th birthday.

Misao Okawa died of heart failure and stopped breathing as relatives and nursing home workers stood by her side and praised her for achieving a long, healthy life, Tomohiro Okada, an official at her Osaka nursing home said.

“She went so peacefully, as if she had just fallen asleep,” Okada said. “We miss her a lot.”

A 116-year-old American woman, Gertrude Weaver of Arkansas, is now the world’s oldest person, according to Los Angeles-based Gerontology Research Group, which keeps records of supercentenarians. She was born July 4, 1898.

Okawa, born in Osaka on March 5, 1898, was recognized as the world’s oldest person by Guinness World Records in 2013.

She lost her appetite about 10 days ago. Until then, she had been eating well, enjoying her daily cup of coffee, and her favorite dishes, including ramen, Okada said.

Okawa, the daughter of a kimono maker, said at her recent birthday celebration that her life seemed rather short. Asked for the secret of her longevity, she responded nonchalantly, “I wonder about that too.”

Report by The Associated Press