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Famous Person: Besse Cooper

Famous For: Oldest Living Human


  • Oldest Living Human
  • Former Teacher

Authors Description:

Cooper was born Besse Berry Brown in Sullivan County, Tennessee, on August 26, 1896, the third of eight children born to Richard Brown (18611932) and Angeline Berry (18661927). She graduated from East Tennessee State Normal School in 1916, and worked as a schoolteacher in Tennessee before moving to Georgia around the time of America's entrance into World War I in 1917. She taught in Between, Georgia, until 1929.

She married Luther Cooper (18951963) in 1924 and had four children with him. Their first child, Angeline, was born in 1929, their second, Luther Jr., in 1932, their third, Sidney, in 1935, and their fourth, Nancy, in 1944. Besse was widowed in 1963 after 39 years of marriage; Luther was 68 at the time of his death. Following her husband's death, Cooper lived alone on their farm until 2001. She has been widowed 49 years.

Cooper became Georgia's oldest resident on January 19, 2009, following the death of 113-year-old Beatrice Farve. Cooper is additionally the second-oldest verified person from Tennessee, after Elizabeth Bolden, who died in December 2006, aged 116 years 118 days. Cooper reputedly attributes her longevity to "minding her own business" and avoiding junk food.

At the time of her 116th birthday in August 2012, Cooper had four children, 12 grandchildren and many great- and great-great-grandchildren. She currently resides in a nursing home in Monroe, Georgia. In July 2012, a proposal was advanced to name a Georgia bridge in Cooper's honor; a bridge in Between was officially named Besse Brown Cooper Bridge on August 24, 2012.

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