America's Oldest Person, Thelma Sutcliffe of Nebraska, Dead at 115

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Thelma Sutcliffe
Thelma Sutcliffe

Mike Kelly/The World-Herald via AP

Thelma Sutcliffe, the oldest supercentenarian in the United States, has died. She was 115.

The Nebraska woman's nephew confirmed the news to CNN, and said she died Monday.

"She passed away peacefully in Omaha at an assisted living facility," Robert Sorenson, 94, told the outlet.

Sutcliffe, who was born in 1906, became the oldest living American this spring after a 115-year-old woman from North Carolina died in April. At the time, the Gerontology Research Group also said that Sutcliffe was the seventh oldest living person in the world.

In another record, the group also reported that she was one of just 19 known living supercentenarians — anyone who is 110 years or older — in the world. All of them were women, the Gerontology Research Group said

Thelma Sutcliffe
Thelma Sutcliffe

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After she passed, Sutcliffe's longtime friend Luella Mason told CNN that her pal was "still very sharp" at the end of her life.

Throughout her life, Sutcliffe lived through World War I and World War II, the 1918 Spanish flu and most recently, the coronavirus pandemic. According to the Omaha World-Herald, the supercentenarian married her husband Bill in 1924. The couple never had children, and Bill died in the 1970s.

Speaking to the newspaper in the spring, Mason said one of Sutcliffe's secrets was never fretting.

"As far as her age, she doesn't believe in worrying at all," her friend said. "She always says, 'What good does it do to worry?' I think that's how you live to be 114 years old."

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In conversation with CNN, Mason said that Sutcliffe credited her longevity to not having children, not smoking and not worrying.

Sorenson, who lives near Phoenix, told the network it had been two years he had been able to visit Sutcliffe because of the pandemic.

"We had plans to meet, but the pandemic took place; we talked on the phone frequently," he said. "I am the last closest relative that she has. She was very important to me. She was good to me and my siblings all throughout the years."