John Painter (supercentenarian)

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For other people named John Painter, see John Painter (disambiguation).
John Painter
Born (1888-09-20)September 20, 1888
Tennessee, United States
Died March 1, 2001(2001-03-01)
(aged 112 years, 162 days)
Tennessee, United States

John George Painter (September 20, 1888 – March 1, 2001) was posthumously recognized, as a result of the United States's SSA supercentenarian study, as the world's oldest man and oldest American veteran. Some years after his death he was also proclaimed to have been the world's oldest man for more than a year before he died.


John George Painter was born on a farm in Jackson County, Tennessee. As a child, he attended school and worked on the farm. In 1917, at age 29, he enlisted in the United States Army. As a part of Battery D in the 115th Artillery Battalion, he hauled ammunition and artillery supplies, including field guns, transporting all the supplies on horses or mules. Painter saw action at the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. Eighty days after the armistice was declared on November 11, 1918, Painter received the highest French honor, the Légion d'honneur award. He also received the Croix de Guerre and was one of only six Tennessee World War I veterans to be awarded the Tennessee Distinguished Award. Painter had to leave his son, Sean Humphrey Painter, when he went to war. He was discharged from service on April 12, 1919, after serving in the army for two years.

After his discharge, Painter pursued a career as a blacksmith and married his childhood sweetheart, Gillie Watson. The couple adopted two daughters. On November 19, 1999, Painter was recognized as the world's oldest veteran at age 111. On September 20, 2000, Tennessee Representative Bart Gordon read the following proclamation in honor of John's 112th birthday:

  • Mr. Speaker, I rise today to wish a happy 112th birthday to Tennessee's oldest surviving World War I veteran, John George Painter of Hermitage Springs. He is also believed to be the nation's oldest surviving veteran.

Painter was recognized as the world's oldest man for about a year and four months, from November 15, 1999, until his death at age 112. At the time of his death, Painter was the 8th oldest verified man ever.

See also[edit]


Preceded by
Antonio Urrea-Hernández
Oldest recognized living man
November 15, 1999 – March 1, 2001
Succeeded by
Antonio Todde