Elsie Thompson death: America's oldest person dies peacefully in her Florida condo just weeks before her 114th birthday
By Meghan Keneally and Helen Pow
PUBLISHED: 11:01 EST, 1 April 2013 | UPDATED: 11:07 EST, 1 April 2013
America's oldest person has passed away in her Clearwater, Florida, home, just weeks before her 114th birthday.
Born on April 5, 1899, Elsie Calvert Thompson was the fourth-oldest person in the world. She died peacefully on March 21 and her family held a memorial service in Clearwater. Her ashes will be buried in Pennsylvania, next to her late husband.
Thompson's only child George Thompson, 72, said she died as he flew from his home in California to see her. She had congestive heart failure.
Aging nicely: Mrs Thompson (left) looks like she hasn't aged at all in the past 14 years, pictured here dancing with a friend in 1999
'She had such a big heart,' he told The Tampa Bay Times on Sunday. 'She was such a large person.'
Thompson was born during the administration of President William McKinley and just a year after the close of the Spanish-American War.
She was a stylish dresser who enjoyed ballroom dancing until shortly before her death. She also loved to sing and play the piano, the Times reported.
Thompson had been in the record books for her remarkable age for four years before she won the distinguished title of being the oldest living American.
She always loved entertaining and welcoming to visitors, but she wasn't able to celebrate earning her new title in January as she has been advised to avoid outside contact because of the flu epidemic.
Those steps are seen as wise by many, as two of the previous title-holders died as a result of infections last month.
Long life: On the brink of her 114th birthday, Elsie Calvert Thompson, pictured, died peacefully in her Florida apartment
Big milestone: Elsie Thompson is 113-years and 299-days old (seen here on her latest birthday), making her the oldest living American
Both 116-year-old Besse Cooper and 115-year-old Dina Manfredini died in December.
Reporters from The Tampa Bay Times met with Thompson on her 111th, 112th, and 113th birthdays, but the flu precautions kept them away when she earned her title recently.
Thompson was known for having a zest for life that many did not expect of someone her age.
'You'll say, "Elsie, honey, you wanna get up?" And she'll say, "You betcha." Sometimes she'll talk and talk,' Susie Harper, one of Mrs Thompson's three caregivers, said of the woman in January.
Harper had worked with Thompson for the past 13 years as she continued to live in her own condominium in Clearwater, Florida as opposed to an assisted living facility.
'Sometimes when she's tired, she doesn't want to say anything. But she has a happy and uplifting spirit about her,' Ms Harper told The Tampa Bay Times.
Thompson is one of the only 14 people left on Earth who were on the planet during the 19th century.
In the record books: Dina Manfredini (left) died due to infection last month at the age of 115, while Japan's Jiroemon Kimura (right) remains the world's oldest person at 115 as well
Thompson stopped traveling to California to visit her son and his family son time before her death.
He initially pushed for her to move to be nearer to him and his family when his father- her longtime husband- died in 1986, but she opted to stay in Florida.
'It has continued to work because she's well taken care of,' he told The Tampa Bay Times in January.
'It's a different world here, and she's so familiar with everything there. You should see how she gets around her apartment. She knows exactly where everything is.'
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