Meet The World’s Oldest Person: 116-Year-Old Susannah Mushatt Jones

December 14, 2015  |  

Photo: Bobby Doherty/NYMag

When I think about the average U.S. life expectancy of 79 years, I immediately hear Trey Songz in my ear singing “Just Gotta Make It.” Susannah Mushatt Jones has surpassed that by more than three decades and, at 116, is now officially the world’s oldest living person. And still fly we might add.

The son of a tenant-farmer, Susie or Tee (short for auntie), as her family members call her, was born in Alabama, the third child and oldest girl of Callie and Mary Mushatt. After graduating from the Calhoun Colored School in December 1922, Susie traveled to the north and began one of many stints as a nanny and caretaker. It’s a role that took Susie to Bel-Air for fancy vacations and led to her meeting Cary Grant, Clark Gable, and Ronald Reagan when she worked for Paul Cokell, the treasurer of Paramount Pictures, and his wife Virginia for some time.

 

In 1928, Susie married Henry Jones, but, as NY Mag pointed out in their profile of her, the couple soon split up and that’s all she has to say about the ex-husband whose surname she kept. In 1965, Susie retired and returned to her family’s farm in Alabama for a while before returning to New York for good. For the past 35 years, she’s called Brooklyn home, moving into a seniors home in Canarsie when she was about 80.

“At 100, she had to stop cooking for herself and give up her neighborhood-watch role, as her eyesight started to go. (Really, it’s just cataracts, but she is too stubborn to sit for the surgery.),” NY Mag said.
“Late in life, she lost her aversion to curse words, though she’d subsequently deny any cussing she did. Miss Susie is her building’s micro­celebrity, and on June 17, she became the world’s oldest living person upon the death of Jeralean Talley, who had six weeks on her.

“She is fragile, no question about it. Sleeps a lot, can’t hear well. But she still loves her bacon — four strips, every morning, eaten with gusto. Has a pretty good appetite, in fact. Chews Doublemint gum. Her hair, long since turned white, has come in brown again. She voted for Barack Obama, twice. (A birthday letter from him hangs on her wall.) And next fall, Susannah Mushatt Jones will perhaps get to vote for a woman as well. Whoever’s elected would be her 21st ­president.”

Check out Miss Susannah Mushatt Jones’ fully profile which appears in the December 14, 2015 issue of New York Magazine here.

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