Some might find the 116th birthday marker to be a little daunting. However, if you are healthy and lucky enough to be one of only eight people to celebrate it, we are positive the ride has been one for the books.

Just ask Besse Cooper, whose life is now one for the ‘Guinness Book of World Records’ since turning 116 years old on Sunday. And, to honor her crowning achievement, the Walton County Board of Commissioners named a bridge after her in Monroe, Georgia where she has lived since World War I.

“The older she has gotten the more wittier she has gotten,” says her son, Sidney Cooper. He also relayed a message from Cooper, who was unable to attend the ceremony, who said, “I’m glad I gave them a reason to name it.”

Although the Guinness World Records deemed Cooper the world’s oldest person, she was forced to relinquish her title for a short time due to the discovery of Brazilian-born Maria Gomes Valentin who was found to be 48 days older. After Valentin died in July, Cooper was reinstated as the world’s oldest person.

Cooper was born in 1886, moving from Tennessee to Georgia during World War I to work as a teacher. She married her husband Luther in 1924 and together the two are responsible for producing four children, 12 grandchildren, and a plethora of great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.

Cooper says the secret to surviving 116 years of life is to mind your own business and don’t eat junk food.


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