Florence Knapp Dies At 114
Jan. 12, 1988
PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Florence Knapp, recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's oldest person, has died at age 114.
Miss Knapp, a teacher who marched in support of women's suffrage in 1919, died Monday at Dock Terrace nursing home.
Donald McFarlan, editor of the Guinness Book, said today that Miss Knapp was recognized as the world's oldest person. Guinness restricts recognition to those who can provide birth records and other documentation.
Her successor is Maren Torp, 111, of Norway, according to Guinness record keepers. The previous person to be listed as the world's oldest was Anna Eliza Williams, of Swansea, Wales, who died Dec. 27 at 114 years and 209 days.
At that time, Guinness said Mrs. Torp was her successor. McFarlan said today that the mixup occurred while members of the Guinness editorial staff were gone.
''At the time we thought Mrs. Torp was the oldest,'' he said. ''But now all the editors are back from holiday and we have it straightened out.''
Miss Knapp was born Oct. 10, 1873. She lived for 110 years in the stone farmhouse in Montgomery Square where she was born and moved to the nursing home four years ago after she broke a hip.
Miss Knapp's birthday is noted in her family's Bible, and her late aunt gave a sworn affidavit in 1930 to verify its accuracy for government records.
Researchers attributed her 114 years to ''good genes.'' Two of her sisters lived into their 90s and an aunt and another sister lived to be 107.
Miss Knapp graduated from West Chester Normal School and College in 1894 and began a teaching career at the Dager School in Lower Gwynedd Township.
She also taught at Friends Select School and served on the faculty of the Baldwin School in Bryn Mawr for more than 30 years.
After she retired in 1935, Miss Knapp researched and wrote papers for the Montgomery County Historical Society. She also baby-sat for several generations of families.
She was fond of nursery rhymes and storybook tales and could still recite all of ''The Owl and the Pussycat,'' said Paul Bradford, her physician for 30 years.
She had been weakened by pneumonia and had trouble hearing, but was in remarkably good shape for her years, according to Bradford.
She is survived by nieces and nephews.
Guinness says the greatest authenticated age to which anyone has ever lived is 120 years and 237 days - by Shigechiyo Izumi of Tokunoshima, an island 820 miles southwest of Tokyo. He was born June 29, 1865, and died Feb. 21, 1986, after developing pneumonia.