08/27/2012 02:33 pm ET | Updated Aug 28, 2012

Besse Cooper, World's Oldest Living Person, Celebrates 116th Birthday

At 116 years of age, Besse Cooper's life bridges the 19th century and the 21st century.

So it's fitting that the woman recognized as the world's oldest living person has had a bridge named after her.

Cooper turned 116 on August 26 in her home town of Monroe, Ga., and one of her gifts was a bridge named after her by the city leaders.

She didn't attend the ceremony, but sent a message through her son, Sidney: "I'm glad I gave them a reason to name it," the Walton Tribune reported.

Cooper was first recognized as the world's oldest living person by Guinness World Records in January 2011, but had to give up the title a few months later when officials discovered that Brazilian-born Maria Gomes Valentim was 48 days older.

However, Valentim died on June 21, 2011, and Cooper was reinstated and has held that title ever since.

She is one of only eight people -- and four Americans -- who have been confirmed to be at least 116.

Born in 1896 in Tennessee, Cooper, who worked as a teacher, married her husband Luther in 1924, and they had four children.

Today, she has 12 grandchildren and more than a dozen great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren.

Her secret to longevity: "I mind my own business," Cooper said. "And I don't eat junk food."


Guinness World Record Athletes