Sarah Knauss at age 119 in 1999
|Born||Sarah DeRemer Clark
September 24, 1880
Hollywood, Pennsylvania, United States
|Died||December 30, 1999
(aged 119 years, 97 days)
Allentown, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Cause of death||Natural causes|
|Height||4 ft 7 in (1.40 m)|
|Title||America's oldest person|
|Spouse(s)||Abraham Lincoln Knauss
|Children||Kathryn Knauss Sullivan
|Parents||Walter Clark (1849–1934)
Amelia Kreyscher (1857–1926)
Sarah DeRemer Knauss (née Clark; September 24, 1880 – December 30, 1999) was an American supercentenarian. She was considered the world's oldest living person by Guinness World Records from April 16, 1998, the date of the death of 117-year-old Canadian Marie-Louise Meilleur, until her own death. At age 117, she also set the record for the world's oldest "new" title-holder (which corresponds to the highest "valley" on a graph of the oldest living persons over time). Knauss is the second-oldest fully documented person ever, behind Jeanne Calment, and the oldest person ever from the western hemisphere. She was the last verified living person to have been born before 1885.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (April 2011)|
Knauss lived her entire life in Pennsylvania. She was born to Walter and Amelia Clark in the small short-lived coal-mining town of Hollywood and died in Allentown. In 1901, she married Abraham Lincoln Knauss (December 19, 1878 – March 1, 1965). She was a skilled seamstress, and made her own wedding dress, in addition to making tablecloths and her own clothes. She reportedly learned to sew when she was 4 years old. Sarah, who was 28 when Henry Ford introduced the Ford Model T in 1908, lived through seven U.S. wars and 23 U.S. Presidents. She was 31 at the time of the sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912, and was 46 when Charles Lindbergh flew solo across the Atlantic.
Knauss was an insurance office manager; upon her marriage, she became a homemaker. Her only child, Kathryn Knauss Sullivan (November 17, 1903 – January 21, 2005), who was 96 at the time of Sarah's death and lived to be 101 herself, once explained Knauss' longevity by saying: "She's a very tranquil person and nothing fazes her. That's why she's living this long."
In 1995, when asked at age 115 if she enjoyed her long life, Sarah answered matter-of-factly: "I enjoy it because I have my health and I can do things." Her passions were said to be watching golf on television; doing needlepoint; and nibbling on milk chocolate turtles, cashews, and potato chips. "Sarah was an elegant lady and worthy of all the honor and adulation she had received," said Joseph Hess, an Administrator of the Phoebe-Devitt Homes Foundation facility where Knauss lived.
Knauss died on December 30, 1999, at the age of 119 years, 97 days.
At age 116, she was recognized as being the new United States national longevity record holder, then thought to have been held by Carrie C. White (reportedly 1874–1991). It is now believed that the record should have been held by Lucy Hannah (1875–1993), who died aged 117 years and 248 days in 1993. In any case, Sarah extended the United States longevity record to age 119. Knauss was the second fully validated person in history to reach age 118 and 119 (first being Calment in 1993 and 1994, respectively).
Of her death, state senator Charlie Dent, who had attended her 115th birthday in 1995, said "Mrs. Knauss was an extraordinary woman who pushed the outer limits of longevity. This is a sad occasion, but she certainly had an eventful life."
More than 13 years after her death, her record as the longest-lived person in the United States has yet to be surpassed; in fact, since Knauss' death, no other person has reached the age of 117 inside of the United States. Jeanne Calment, born in France lived to be 122 years old and 164 days establishing her as the oldest person to have ever lived.
- "Mrs. Sarah Knauss, the World's Oldest Person, Turns 119". The Morning Call (WebCite). September 25, 1999. Retrieved July 22, 2013.
- "World's oldest person misses millennium.". CNN via WebCite. Retrieved March 23, 2008.
- "Nothing Fazes Oldest Woman". Associated Press. April 19, 1998. Retrieved December 9, 2007.
- "World's oldest person dies. She is the oldest verified American in history". The Guardian (London). January 1, 2000. Retrieved December 9, 2007.
- "Sarah Knauss, oldest person, dies at 119". Genealogy.com. December 31, 1999. Retrieved February 18, 2013.
|Oldest recognized living person
April 16, 1998 – December 30, 1999
|Oldest verified American person ever
May 31, 1998 – present