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Gertrude Weaver, USA's oldest woman celebrates 116th birthday on the 4th of July

 Misao Okawa, eats her birthday cake on her 116th birthday celebration at Kurenai Nursing Home on March 5, 2014 in Osaka, Japan.
Misao Okawa, eats her birthday cake on her 116th birthday celebration at Kurenai Nursing Home on March 5, 2014 in Osaka, Japan.Photo by Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images

Gertrude Weaver may not be the oldest person in the world (that honor belongs to 116 Misao Okawa of Japan, who celebrated her own 116th birthday on March 5th), but she is the oldest person in the United States, beating out 115-year old Jeralean Talley by several months according the Gerontology Research Group. Although no birth record exists for Mrs. Weaver, the Guiness Book of World Records found her listed in the 1900 census as age two, putting her actual arrival into the world at 1898, a date verified by a 1915 marriage certificate listing her as age 17, according to Robert Young, database director for the research group and senior consultant for Guiness Book. Born in Arkansas near the Texas border, she says she has always celebrated her birthday on the 4th of July.

Although she had four children, only one of them survives, a son, Joe now 93. While she had lived with a granddaughter for several years, Gertrude has been a resident at Silver Oaks Health and Rehabilitation Center in Camden, AR (approximately 100 miles south of Little Rock) since 2007, and celebrated her “milestone” birthday there with a party that included cake and the presentation of an award from the Gerontology Group.

“She just eats up all the attention,” remarked Silver Oaks Marketing and Admissions Director Vicki Vaughn, who added that Weaver still comes out of her room for her meals and participate in the facility’s activities.
When asked the secret to her longevity, Weaver replied, “You have to trust and follow God, not anybody else. Be obedient and follow the laws and don’t worry about anything. I’ve followed Him for many, many years, and I ain’t tired.” She also cited the need to “work hard and love everybody.”

Note: As of May, there were reportedly 39 other women over the age of 110 scattered throughout the world.