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John Evans, 112; Guinness Book Listed Him as World’s Oldest Man

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Former coal miner John Evans, believed the world’s oldest man, died in his sleep Sunday at the age of 112.

His daughter-in-law, Betty Evans, said he died in a chair beside his bed at his cottage in Forest-fach, near Swansea, Wales, after feeling “a little unwell” for a few days.

The genial Welshman, who received a heart pacemaker more than four years ago, firmly believed his longevity was due to not drinking, smoking, swearing or gambling.

“But some part of it is taking hot water in the morning . . . (with) a small bit of honey. I’ve been doing that since I retired,” he told the British Broadcasting Corp. on his 111th birthday in 1988.

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He also said he tried hard not to get upset. “It just doesn’t do to get in a temper,” he said on his 109th birthday.

The 1990 Guinness Book of World Records said Evans was considered the world’s oldest living man.

The oldest living person whose birth date Guinness authenticated is a 115-year-old woman, Carrie C. White, born in Gadsden, Fla., on Nov. 18, 1874. She lives in a nursing home in Palatka, Fla.

Evans was born Aug. 19, 1877, 24 years before the death of Queen Victoria. He started working in coal mines when he was 13, and only stopped at age 73 because of National Coal Board mandatory retirement rules.

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Evans was fitted with a pacemaker when he was 108. Doctors said at the time they thought he was the oldest person to undergo the operation and were astounded when he was able to return home three days later.

“It’s given me a new lease of life --and I don’t have to go back to have new batteries put in for another 10 years” he joked at the time.

Evans had a wheelchair but preferred a walking stick. He worked in his garden until he was 95, planting potatoes and other vegetables.

In 1987, Evans visited London, 190 miles away, to celebrate his 110th birthday. He said he thought of making the trip as long ago as 1900 but couldn’t afford the $2.50 it cost then for the train ticket.


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