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Ramona Trinidad Iglesias-Jordan, 114; Oldest Person In The World

June 1, 2004
Copyright ©2004. All rights reserved.

Ramona Trinidad Iglesias-Jordan, the world's oldest person and the last human being on Earth born in the year 1889, died Saturday of pneumonia in Rio Piedras, a suburb of San Juan, Puerto Rico, said Rene Matos, a great-nephew who lives in El Paso, Texas. She was 114 years and 272 days old.

"I was hoping she could make it to her 115th birthday, but it was impossible," Matos said by telephone from Texas. "She was in the hospital about four or five days, and the day after she was released she died in the nursing home."

Mrs. Iglesias-Jordan earned the distinction in April when Guinness World Records declared her the world's oldest living woman after a check of documents.

Iglesias-Jordan was born in 1889, a year that also saw the births of Adolph Hitler and Charlie Chaplin, the Johnstown, Pa., flood, the opening of Oklahoma to white settlement and completion of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

A baptism certificate showed Iglesias-Jordan was born Aug. 31 that year, while a birth certificate issued in 1948 showed her birth date one day later, on Sept. 1.

Born in the central town of Utuado, Iglesias-Jordan lived all her life in Puerto Rico. She was one of 11 children; one brother lived to 101 and a sister to 103, said nephew Jorge Iglesias. Her two surviving sisters are 89 and 94, he said.

The daughter of Eduardo Iglesias-Ortiz and Luisa Jordan-Correa, whose surnames were combined to form her own, her native Puerto Rico was still part of the Spanish empire and lived through the transition after U.S. troops seized the Caribbean island in 1898.

Iglesias-Jordan could recall the Spanish-American War of 1898, and said that before the war her teachers spoke only Spanish, but afterward, Americans arrived, introducing English.

She also had clear memories of San Felipe, the hurricane that killed more than 2,000 people in Puerto Rico, the Bahamas and Florida in 1928.

Iglesias-Jordan married Alfonso Alonzo-Soler in 1912, and maintained their home while he worked as a bank manager. Although they had no children, they adopted a nephew, Roberto Torres-Iglesias, who is now 85. He had been planning a 115th birthday party for his aunt.

Matos, 64, said he thinks Mrs. Iglesias-Jordan’s longevity stemmed from her having "a very easy life -- easy in the sense that she didn't have too much to worry about."

Her husband was a bank manager in the 1940s and '50s who died in the 1970s, Matos said. They never had any children and lived peacefully, he said.

She enjoyed a beer with meals, Matos said.

"Even when she was over 100 years, every time we took her out to a restaurant, she always liked to have a beer, a small beer, a 7-ounce beer with the food," he said. "That was the first thing she asked for when she got to a restaurant."

Iglesias-Jordan’s death could make Hendrikje van Andel-Schipper, 113, of the Netherlands the oldest living person, according to news reports.

She was born in Smilde on June 29, 1890.

Fred Hale Sr., 113, of Syracuse, N.Y., is listed by Guinness as the world's oldest man. He was born on Dec. 1, 1890.

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