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|Born||Susan Elizabeth Potts
October 31, 1890
|Died||February 16, 2006
(aged 115 years, 108 days)
|Title||The third-oldest person in the world|
|Spouse(s)||James W. Gibson (1884-1955)|
|Children||James Gibson, Jr. (1921–1987)|
Joseph "Joe" & Mary Potts (parents) Nancy Paetz (granddaughter)Ernestine Gibson (daughter-in law)
Susan "Susie" Elizabeth Gibson (née Potts; October 31, 1890) – February 16, 2006) was an American supercentenarian and the third-oldest person in the world at the time of her death. She currently ranks as one of the 25 oldest validated persons of all time. Moreover, Gibson was older than several 'world's oldest persons'. She came along at a time of heavy competition: María Capovilla, Elizabeth Bolden and Bettie Wilson together marked just the second time there were four living at least 115-year-olds at the same time in 2005–2006 (the first time was in 1997–1998). In addition to her age, Gibson was in remarkable shape, able to be interviewed by NBC and others and still mentally fit until her final months. Unlike those confined to a nursing home, Gibson went out to eat at O'Charley's restaurant regularly, even up to age 115.
Gibson was born in Corinth, Mississippi. The oldest located document, in the 1900 Census, lists her as born in 1890, as does the one in the 1920 Census. Her Social Security record, however, lists her as born in 1889.
Susie Potts married James W. Gibson in 1915, and they moved to northwest Alabama, settling in Sheffield. He died in 1955, and her only son, James Jr., died in 1987, aged 66. By this time, Gibson was already 96 years old—and now living alone (though she had surviving grandchildren).
Gibson lived on her own until age 104, when she moved into a nursing home in Tuscumbia, Alabama. Ten years later, aged 114, she was one of the world's oldest people. In November 2004, Gibson was interviewed, at age 114, and was able to talk more than an hour, remembering such things as the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, or that horse-drawn carriages would get stuck in the mud. Gibson also recalled finding minié balls along the creeks near the old Shiloh battlefield. In October 2005, Gibson was interviewed again because of her 115th birthday, this time for NBC News (see video links).
Rank among oldest people
As late as November 2004, Gibson ranked just seventh on the "world's oldest person" list, even though Hendrikje van Andel-Schipper of the Netherlands had taken the world title on May 29, 2004 at a mere 113 years and 335 days. In addition, Gibson claimed to be one year older, but the family Bible has not been located (yet) to back up such a claim.
By April 2005, Susie Gibson moved up to fifth-oldest in the world after the deaths of then verified oldest American Emma Verona Johnston (August 6, 1890 – December 1, 2004) of Ohio and Anne Primout (October 5, 1890 – March 26, 2005) of France, and had moved into the all-time top 40 oldest verified persons. The death of Ura Koyama of Japan (August 30, 1890 – April 5, 2005) temporarily moved Gibson up to fourth on the world list, but the subsequent validation to be older of fellow American Elizabeth Bolden by April 28, 2005 had once again relegated her to fifth-oldest. She moved back up to fourth on July 25, 2005 with the death of Maria do Couto Maia-Lopes of Portugal. On August 30, 2005, Hendrikje van Andel-Schipper (then the recognized oldest person in the world) died, and Gibson moved up to third-oldest in the world (but still only third-oldest in the U.S.). The U.S. (like Japan in December 2002 – September 2003) now had the rather rare situation of having the three oldest verified people in the world. This changed again, however, on December 9, 2005, when Guinness World Records recognized 116-year-old María Capovilla of Ecuador as the oldest living person. Gibson was once again moved down to fourth place. On February 13, 2006, the death of compatriot Bettie Wilson meant she moved up briefly to third place. However, Susie Gibson died less than 72 hours later, in the early hours of February 16, 2006, at 115 years and 108 days.
- NBC videos of Bettie Wilson and Susie Gibson