John Painter (supercentenarian)

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John George 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 the world's oldest man and oldest American veteran.[1]


John George Painter was born on September 20, 1888 on a farm in Jackson County, Tennessee. As a child, he attended school and worked on the farm. Longevity ran in Painter's family; his father lived to 99, and his siblings to ages 97, 103, 96, 95, 99, 96, 105, 93, 91, and 87. 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.[2]

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.[3]

On March 1, 2001, John Painter died at his home in Hermitage Springs, Tennessee. According to the Kentucky New Era, the cause of death was a heart attack.[4][3][5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Table M - World's Oldest Men (WOM) Titleholders Since 1973". Gerontology Research Group. July 14, 2015. Retrieved 22 November 2015. 
  2. ^ "Oldest U.S. Veteran John Painter Dies". The Washington Post. March 4, 2001. Retrieved November 26, 2015. 
  3. ^ a b Bart Gordon. "Honoring The 112th Birthday Of World War I Veteran John Painter". Congressional Record. Retrieved 2015-12-09. 
  4. ^ "Oldest vet, WWI hero dies at 112". Lubbock online. March 4, 2001. Retrieved November 26, 2015. 
  5. ^ "News Briefs - Veteran Recognized". Nashville City Paper. March 6, 2001. Archived from the original on July 3, 2004.