Susie Gibson

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Susie Gibson
Born Susan Elizabeth Potts
October 31, 1890
Corinth, Mississippi,
United States
Died February 16, 2006(2006-02-16)
(aged 115 years, 108 days)
Tuscumbia, Alabama,
United States
Title The third-oldest person in the world (with documentation)
Spouse(s) James W. Gibson (1884-1955)
Children James Gibson, Jr. (1921–1987)
  • Joseph "Joe" and Mary Potts (parents)
  • Ernestine Gibson (daughter-in law)
  • Nancy Paetz (granddaughter)

Susan Henderson (granddaughter)

Susan Elizabeth Gibson (née Potts;[1] October 31, 1890 – February 16, 2006)[2][3] was the second-oldest American and the third-oldest person in the world with documentation, after María Capovilla and Elizabeth Bolden.[1]

She studied at a secretarial school, and during her married life, Gibson operated an inn. She outlived her husband by 50 years and her only child by about 19 years. Gibson was active throughout most of her life, living in her own house until she was about 104 years old. Even after living in a nursing home, she regularly went out to eat at a local restaurant until she was 115. In 2005, she was featured in a hearing aid advertisement, which said "It's never too late to hear better". She credited her longevity to pickles, vinegar, avoiding medicine, and doing things that she enjoyed.

Family life[edit]

Gibson was born in 1890[4][a] in Corinth, Mississippi to Joe and Mary Potts.[5] In 1900, she lived in Corinth, Mississippi with her parents and siblings; she was the third of four children. Her father was a farmer.[6][b] Her mother lived to the age of 102.[5][8][c]

Susie studied typing and dictation at a secretarial school.[10] She married James W. Gibson in 1915, and they moved to northwest Alabama, and settled in Sheffield. He was a pharmacist.[1][11] The couple had one child, James Jr.,[1][8] who was born in 1917. Gibson worked by making ties and operating an inn.[10] She was active in women's groups, and enjoyed gardening, playing bridge, and fishing. Taking a lesson from her grandmother, she ensured that she spent time each day doing the things she wanted to do.[1] Her husband died in 1955, and her only child,[1][8] James Jr., died in 1987, aged 66. He was also a pharmacist.[10]

Later years[edit]

By the time her son died, Gibson was 96 years old. Her remaining family was her daughter-in-law, Ernestine, and her grandchildren.[1][5][10] Although she stopped driving the year before, she continued to remain active.[10] Gibson lived in the same home for 80 years[1] until she had failing eyesight at about 104[10] or 106 years of age, and moved into a nursing home in Tuscumbia, Alabama.[1][12] Her granddaughter, Nancy Paetz, said on National Public Radio in 2006 that she had been both strong and stubborn. When she realized she could no longer live independently, she called her family and said "I've sold my house. I've got me a room. Come move me."[12]

She was a story-teller, something that she enjoyed doing through her 113rd year.[13] In October 2005, Gibson was interviewed regarding her 115th birthday by NBC News.[5] It was revealed that Gibson "read the bible regularly". Robert Young, a researcher for gerontology research centers, stated that spiritual belief is considered to be a trait among many supercentenarians.[9] Jerry Friedman, author of Earth's Elders, said that while he found no secret among the people that were supercentenarians, most were religious.[14] Gibson was in remarkable physical and mental shape for her age when she was interviewed by NBC and others. She ate out regularly at a local restaurant up to age 115.[1][15] In November 2005, she was featured in an advertisement, "It's never too late to hear better", for Droke Hearing Aids.[16]

She died following heart failure on February 16, 2006,[13][17] which was three days after the death of Bettie Wilson, another 115-year-old woman from Mississippi.[18] Gibson was buried at Henry cemetery in Corinth, Mississippi.[19] On a National Public Radio program following Gibson's death, her granddaughter said that Gibson had three keys to living a long life. She put vinegar on a lot of her food, ate a lot of pickles and drank pickle juice, and avoided medicine.[12]

Historical reference[edit]

When Gibson was born, slaves were emancipated, but the south was still rebuilding after the Civil War. And, there were 42 U.S. states.[15][d] Gibson stated in November 2004, when she was age 114, that she remembered the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, and that horse-drawn carriages would get stuck in the mud. Gibson also recalled finding minié balls along the creeks near the old Shiloh battlefield.[5] Women did not have the right to vote[15] until 1920, when was 30 years of age and voted in her first election.[10] She said Theodore Roosevelt was her favorite president, and Sam Houston was her third cousin.[20]

Gibson was one of supercentenarians featured in the book, Earth's Elders: The Wisdom of the World's Oldest People, by Jerry Friedman.[14] In the teacher's guide for Earth's Elders, suggested topics for research and discussion about Gibson's life include the Civil War battles in Corinth, the women's suffrage movement, and living through the depression.[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ She claimed to have been born in 1889, but the family bible that recorded the family's dates of birth was lost. Subsequent research established a date of birth in 1890.[4]
  2. ^ The Los Angeles Times reported that her father was a banker.[1] In an interview given at age 114, Gibson mentioned that her parents were plantation owners, and that her grandfather had in fact owned almost all of the town she had grown up in.[7]
  3. ^ The Chicago Tribune stated that Gibson's mother lived to 104.[9]
  4. ^ The Anniston Star reported that there were only 38 stars on the country's flag when Gibson was born, but that was based upon the understanding that she was born in 1889, rather than 1890.[11]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Susie Potts Gibson, 115; One of Oldest U.S. Women Attributed Longevity to Vinegar and Pickles". Los Angeles Times. February 18, 2006. 
  2. ^ "Supercentenarians". Supercentenarian Study. Retrieved December 1, 2016. 
  3. ^ Jeroen van Ginneken; Nico van Ni. "Oud, ouder, …oudst" (PDF). NIDI Netherlands. Retrieved December 1, 2016. 
  4. ^ a b Young, Robert (May 17, 2010). "Age 115 or more in the United States: Fact or fiction?". Supercentenarians. Springer Science & Business Media. pp. 266–268. ISBN 978-3-642-11520-2. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Jeune, Bernard; et al. (May 2010). "Jeanne Calment and her Successors.". In Maier, Heiner. Supercentenarians (Demographic Research Monographs). Springer. p. 314. ISBN 978-3-642-11519-6. 
  6. ^ Maier, Heiner; Gampe, Jutta; Jeune, Bernard; Vaupel, James W.; Robine, Jean-Marie (May 17, 2010). Supercentenarians. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 267. ISBN 978-3-642-11520-2. 
  7. ^ Elders, Friedman, ed. (September 2005). Earth's Elders: The Wisdom of the World's Oldest People. Earth's Elders Foundation. p. 215. ISBN 978-0-976-91080-0. 
  8. ^ a b c Maier, Heiner; Gampe, Jutta; Jeune, Bernard; Vaupel, James W.; Robine, Jean-Marie (May 17, 2010). Supercentenarians. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 319. ISBN 978-3-642-11520-2. 
  9. ^ a b "Supercentenarians giving researchers clues on longevity". Chicago Tribune. February 8, 2006. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g Maier, Heiner; Gampe, Jutta; Jeune, Bernard; Vaupel, James W.; Robine, Jean-Marie (May 17, 2010). Supercentenarians. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 314. ISBN 978-3-642-11520-2. 
  11. ^ a b "Dill pickles, onions and a good sense of humor helped Susie Potts Gibson reach 112". The Anniston Star. Anniston, Alabama. November 2, 2001. p. 12. Retrieved November 30, 2016. 
  12. ^ a b c "On Vinegar and Living to the Ripe Old Age of 115". NPR. February 21, 2006. Retrieved November 30, 2016. 
  13. ^ a b Maier, Heiner; Gampe, Jutta; Jeune, Bernard; Vaupel, James W.; Robine, Jean-Marie (May 17, 2010). Supercentenarians. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 315. ISBN 978-3-642-11520-2. 
  14. ^ a b Jessica Kovler (October 9, 2005). "'Super' Centenarians, Eyewitnesses To History". New York Times. Retrieved October 2, 2016. 
  15. ^ a b c "Supercentenarians: Part 2". WNBC. December 9, 2005. Archived from the original on January 1, 2007. 
  16. ^ "Advertisement: Droke Hearing Aids". Times Daily. Florence, Alabama. November 28, 2005. p. 28. Retrieved November 30, 2016. 
  17. ^ Glenday, Craig (April 30, 2013). Guinness World Records 2013. Bantam Books. p. 102. ISBN 978-0-345-54711-8. 
  18. ^ "Local - 115-year-old dies (on Articles about Latin Jazz, under "Grammy winner Ray Barretto dies")". Orlando Sentinel. February 18, 2006. Retrieved November 30, 2016. 
  19. ^ "Susie Gibson Obituary". February 20, 2006. Retrieved November 30, 2016. 
  20. ^ "Susie Gibson, a north Alabama woman widely recognized as the third-oldest person in the world, has died of heart failure at a nursing center". The Anniston Star. Anniston, Alabama. February 18, 2006. p. 5. Retrieved December 2, 2016. 
  21. ^ Nancy Gropper; Laura Sedlock; Salvatore Vascellaro; Karen Weiss. "Everything Has Changed: Life Stories of our Eldest Citizens" (PDF). Earth's Elders. pp. 5–6. Retrieved November 30, 2016.