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Thelma Sutcliffe, oldest person in U.S., dies at 115

NBC News logo NBC News 1/21/2022 Chantal Da Silva
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Thelma Sutcliffe, the oldest living person in the United States, died on Monday, her longtime friend said.

Born on Oct. 1, 1906, in Omaha, Nebraska, Sutcliffe was 115 years and 108 days old at the time of her death.

Luella “Lou” Mason said her friend had been in hospice care when she died.

“She passed very peacefully. It was just time,” she told the Omaha World-Herald.

The Gerontology Research Group in Los Angeles, a global organization of researchers in the gerontology field, also confirmed Sutcliffe's death.

Sutcliffe became the oldest living person in the U.S. on April 17, 2021, Robert Young, director of the Gerontology Research Group's Supercentenarian Research and Database Division, told NBC News in a phone interview on Friday. As of October, she was the fifth-oldest person in the world, he said.

The supercentenarian had celebrated her 115th birthday at her residence, the Brighton Gardens of Omaha senior living center, last October, the World-Herald reported.

In the wake of Sutcliffe's death, Maria Branyas Morera, who was born in California on March 4, 1907, and currently lives in Spain, is now the oldest U.S.-born person in the world. However, Young said: "I'm not completely sure whether she decided to keep her American citizenship or not."

Young said Sutcliffe was known within his organization for her "positive attitude about living."

Noting that she had survived cancer twice in her life, he said that Sutcliffe never appeared to be "worried about anything."

"I think she basically just had a positive attitude about living," he said.

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