Sarah Knauss

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Image:Sarah_Knauss.jpg
Sarah Knauss

Sarah Knauss (September 24, 1880 - December 30, 1999) was considered the "world's oldest person" by Guinness World Records from April 16, 1998 until her death in 1999. At 117, Sarah set the record for the oldest "new" titleholder (which corresponds to the highest "valley" on a graph of the oldest living persons over time).

Sarah DeRemer Clark was born in a small coal mining town, Hollywood, Pennsylvania (which no longer exists), and died in Allentown, Pennsylvania. In 1901 she married Abraham Lincoln Knauss. He became a well-known Republican leader in Lehigh County. Upon the 1998 death of Marie-Louise Meilleur, she became the oldest recognized person in the world. Following her death, Eva Morris of England became the oldest recognized person in the world.

Knauss was a homemaker and insurance office manager. Her daughter, Kathryn Sullivan, who was 96 at the time of Sarah's death, once explained Knauss' three-digit age by saying:""She's a very tranquil person and nothing fazes her. That's why she's living this long."

In 1995, when asked if she enjoyed her long life, Knauss said matter-of-factly: "I enjoy it because I have my health and I can do things." Her passions were said to be watching golf on television, doing needlepoint, and nibbling on milk chocolate turtles, cashews, and potato chips. "Sarah was an elegant lady and worthy of all the honor and adulation she had received," said Joseph Hess, an Administrator of the Phoebe-Devitt Homes Foundation facility where Knauss died quietly in her room. Officials said that, to their knowledge, she had not been ill.

Knauss lived through seven U.S. wars, the sinking of the RMS Titanic and Charles Lindbergh's solo flight across the Atlantic. She was older than the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty, and was already 88 when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon in July 1969.

In addition to her daughter, Knauss was survived by several grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren.

At age 116 she was recognized as the United States national longevity recordholder, then thought to be held by Carrie White (1874?-1991). It is now thought that the record should have been held by Lucy Hannah (117 years 248 days) who died in 1993. In any case, Sarah extended the U.S. record to age 119. She lived to see her daughter turn 96. Most scientific circles consider her to be the second-oldest person ever, after Jeanne Calment (the Izumi claim to be 120 being largely bypassed).

She is considered to have been the last living member of the Missionary Generation.

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