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Misao Okawa, World's Oldest Person, Dead At 117

04/01/2015 02:38 am ET | Updated Apr 01, 2015

Misao Okawa, a Japanese woman who was recognized by Guinness World Records as the world's oldest person, died on Wednesday of heart failure, Reuters reported. She was 117.

"She went so peacefully, as if she had just fallen asleep," Tomohiro Okada, an official at the Osaka nursing home where Okawa lived, told The Associated Press. "We miss her a lot."

Okawa was born in a kimono shop on March 5, 1898. That was the year the U.S. annexed the Hawaiian islands, the first car sold in America and a new soft drink called Pepsi-Cola launched.

Okawa married Yukio Okawa in 1919 and they remained together until his death in 1931. She never remarried. Okawa bore three children, two of whom are still alive in their 90s, and had four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

When asked for the secret of her longevity, Okawa once said it was to "watch out for one's health." She also credited a healthy appetite -- she loved eating mackerel sushi -- and getting plenty of sleep.

The Japanese supercentenarian was recognized by Guinness World Records as the world's oldest person in 2013 when Jiroemon Kimura, also from Japan, died at the age of 116 years and 54 days, Bloomberg reported. Okawa was also the fifth oldest verified person ever recorded and the last living Japanese person to have been born in the 1800s.

On her last birthday, an Osaka government official brought Okawa a bouquet of flowers and wished her many happy returns, The Guardian reported. When he asked how she felt about the past 117 years, she replied: “It seemed rather short.”

The world's oldest person is now Gertrude Weaver, of Arkansas, who will turn 117 on July 4.

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