Maria de Jesus, world’s oldest person, dies at 115

Times Staff And Wire Reports

Maria de Jesus, who was believed to have been the world’s oldest living person, died Friday in her native Portugal. She was 115.

Born Sept. 10, 1893, de Jesus was listed by the and the Gerontology Research Group as the world’s oldest person.

The next person to claim the distinction as the world’s oldest living person is Gertrude Baines, a 114-year-old resident of Los Angeles. Baines, who was born April 6, 1894, is currently in good health, said Dr. Stephen Coles of the Gerontology Research Group, which validates claims of extreme old age.

De Jesus had eaten breakfast as usual Friday morning but was being taken to a hospital because of swelling, her daughter Maria Madalena told the state news agency Lusa. De Jesus died in an ambulance near the town of Tomar in central Portugal.

De Jesus was born to a poor family in Urqueira and lost sight in one of her eyes when she was a child. She never went to school and never learned to read or write. She went to work in the fields at age 12 and, after marrying, moved with her husband to the town of Corujo.

De Jesus was left a widow when she was 57. She outlived three of her six children and had 11 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.

De Jesus never “fell ill, nor took any medication,” Madalena told Lusa.

For her 100th birthday, de Jesus had said she wanted to learn to read and write.

“A teacher came for a few months, but she never made it,” Madalena said of her mother’s efforts.