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2 of oldest people in U.S. die: in N.H. 114, Mich. 113
WESTMORELAND, N.H. -- Two of the oldest people in the world have died on the same day.
Mary Josephine Ray, who was certified as the oldest person living in the United States, died Sunday at age 114 years, 294 days. She died at a nursing home in Westmoreland but was active until about two weeks before her death, her granddaughter Katherine Ray said.
"She just enjoyed life. She never thought of dying at all," Katherine Ray said. "She was planning for her birthday party."
Ray died just hours before Daisey Bailey, who was 113 years, 342 days, said L. Stephen Coles, a director of the Gerontology Research Group, which tracks and studies old people and certifies those 110 or older, called supercentenarians.
"It's very rare that two of our supercentenarians die on the same day," Coles said.
Bailey, who was born March 30, 1896, died in Detroit, he said. She had suffered from dementia, said her family, which claimed she was born in 1895.
Ray, even with her recent decline, managed an interview with a reporter last week, her granddaughter said.
Ray was the oldest person in the United States and the second-oldest in the world, the Gerontology Research Group said. She also was recorded as the oldest person ever to live in New Hampshire.
The oldest living American is now Neva Morris, of Ames, Iowa, at age 114 years, 216 days. The oldest person in the world is Japan's Kama Chinen at age 114 years, 301 days.
Ray was born May 17, 1895, in Bloomfield, Prince Edward Island, Canada. She moved to the United States at age 3.
She lived for 60 years in Anson, Maine. She lived in Florida, Massachusetts and elsewhere in New Hampshire before she moved to Westmoreland in 2002 to be near her children.
Ray's husband, Walter Ray, died in 1967. Survivors include two sons, eight grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren and five great-great-grandchildren.
Morris, the Iowa woman now believed to be the oldest U.S. resident, lives at a care center. Only one of her four children, a son in Sioux City, is still alive.
"She has some hearing deficiencies and a visual deficiency, but mentally she is quite alert and will respond when she feels like it and isn't too tired," said her 90-year-old son-in-law, Tom Wickersham, who lives in the same care center.
Wickersham said he visits his mother-in-law -- who plays bingo and enjoys singing "You Are My Sunshine" -- nearly every day.