Eugenie Blanchard dies at 114; nun was considered the world’s oldest person

Eugenie Blanchard, a nun who was considered the world’s oldest person, died Thursday on the French Caribbean island of St. Bart’s. She was 114.

Blanchard died at Bruyn Hospital in Gustavia, where she had lived in the geriatric ward since 1980.

Her cousin Armelle Blanchard told the Associated Press that although Blanchard could no longer talk, she had seemed to be in relatively good health.

“When you talked to her, she would smile,” she said. “We don’t know if she understood us.”


Blanchard was born on St. Bart’s on Feb. 16, 1896, and lived much of her life in a convent on the Dutch Caribbean island of Curacao. She was the last survivor of a family of 13 brothers and sisters.

Blanchard had earned the nickname “Sweets” because of how she treated others, said Victorin Lurel, who represents St. Bart’s in France’s lower house of parliament, the National Assembly.

Known as Sister Cyria in her religious order, Blanchard arrived at Curacao’s Congregation of Franciscan Sisters of Roosendaal in May 1923 and stayed until August 1955.

After returning to St. Bart’s, Blanchard lived alone with a cat as her only companion until she moved to the hospital 30 years ago, when she was 84.

“Because of her age, she had to be hospitalized, but she still loves having a glass of Champagne, at least on her birthday,” her nephew Daniel Blanchard told Agence France-Presse in 2008.

According to the Gerontology Research Group, which maintains a registry of the world’s oldest people, Blanchard became the oldest person alive on May 2, when Kama Chinen of Japan died at age 114, only days before she would have turned 115.

Blanchard’s death makes Eunice Sanborn of Jacksonville, Texas, born July 20, 1896, in Louisiana, the oldest person alive, according to the same registry, which is overseen by Dr. Stephen Coles of UCLA.