GUSTAVIA, St. Barts — Eugenie Blanchard, a nun who was considered the world's oldest person, died in the French Caribbean island of St. Barts on Thursday. She was 114.
Bruyn Hospital director Pierre Nuty said she died early Thursday at the hospital, where she had lived in the geriatric ward since 1980.
Cousin Armelle Blanchard told The Associated Press that while Blanchard could no longer talk, she had seemed to be in relatively good health.
"When you talked to her, she would smile," she said. "We don't know if she understood us."
Blanchard was born in St. Barts on Feb. 16, 1896, and lived much of her life in a convent in the Dutch Caribbean island of Curacao before returning home in the 1950s. She was the last survivor of a family of 13 brothers and sisters.
Blanchard had earned the nickname "Sweets" because of how she treated others, said Victorin Lurel, who represents St. Barts in France's lower house of parliament, the National Assembly
Barzilai believes his super agers were born with a genetic code that got them long past 80, but that living a healthy life is important for everyone -- regardless of whether they have those magic genes. "If you want to get above 80, you have to not smoke, you have to exercise, and you have to watch your diet," Barzilai says.
Exercise your mind, too. You don't see many easy chairs and remote controls in the videos of Barzilai's centenarians. These people are constantly on the go--traveling, visiting their grandkids, even working. At age 104, Irving Kahn was still working five days a week as an investment advisor. "I enjoy debating with him about business subjects," his son says in the video. (Incredibly, Kahn also had a 108-year-old sister.)
As for me, I'm inspired by the video of 96-year-old Port, walking the treadmill in her purple, velour sweatsuit. "You have to be active," she says. Good advice from someone who's truly qualified to advise us all on how to age well.