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Oldest American 'Pat' Thomas dead at 114

Nov. 18, 2009 at 12:15 PM   |   Comments

WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y., Nov. 18 (UPI) -- Olivia Thomas, the oldest native-born American, died this week at the age of 114, officials at the nursing home near Buffalo, N.Y., where she lived said.

Thomas, known to her friends as "Pat," died Monday at the St. Francis Home of Williamsville where she had resided since 2004.

The Gerontology Research Group told The Buffalo News Thomas was believed to be the third-oldest person in the world at the time of her death. The world's oldest person is thought to be Kama Chinen of Japan, who was born one month and 19 days before Thomas, the News said. Mary Josephine Ray, who lives in the United States but was born in Canada, is one month and 12 days older than Thomas.

Born June 29, 1895, Thomas was married to a World War I veteran and lived most of her life in Snyder. Her friends described her as a passionate gardener who established a gardening-therapy program at the area's Veterans Administration hospital and was the program's chairwoman when she was in her 90s.

The News said Thomas developed dementia in recent years, but appeared to thrive in an art program at the St. Francis Home. Some of her vibrant watercolors were auctioned off at a fundraiser.

© 2009 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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