Florence Knapp, at 114 the oldest person in the...

LANSDALE, Pa. -- Florence Knapp, at 114 the oldest person in the world, has died in a nursing home in suburban Philadelphia, officials said today.

Knapp, who died Monday of cardiac arrest, was born to Charles and Elizabeth Johnson Knapp on Oct. 10, 1873, in Montgomery Square, Montgomery County.


Her status as oldest person in the world was officially recognized two weeks ago by the Guinness Book of World Records, said Greta Longenecker, director of the funeral home in charge of services for Knapp.

The date is recorded in an affidavit signed by a relative who assisted in the delivery, meeting Guiness's guidelines for documentation.

Knapp lived for 110 years in the same stone house in which she was born, moving to a nursing home only when she broke her hip.

In a 1986 interview with United Press International, Knapp gave her recipe for longevity.

'Live as well as you can every day and follow the rules of health,' she advised.

She said her only regret was that she never married, although she said that may be one of the reasons she lived so long.

'I think sometimes maybe I made a mistake,' she said. 'Once there was a boywho was crazy about me. He said he was in love with me and couldn't think of anything but me. I liked him well enough, but to think of him day and night and of nothing else -- no, I thought of lots of things all the time.'


Knapp said her earliest memory was of traveling with her parents to the American Centennial in 1876 when she was 3.

'Things haven't changed,' the tiny, wispy-haired woman said. 'I don't think the world has changed much at all.'

Knapp, a lifelong advocate of women's rights, recalled marching down Broad Street in Philadelphia for women's suffrage in 1919.

'Everybody had to wear a little white dress and white shoes and stockings,' she said. 'I was to carry a banner. It said 'Votes for women.' I remember a big wind came up and blew the banner right up in the air. I was off my feet, about 4 feet in the air, hanging onto the banner.'

She said real change was slow in coming.

'After women got the vote, everything was going to be hunky-dory. Everything would be wonderful,' she said. But after we got the vote, the bad things went on and the good things went on. And sometimes the bad things got badder.'

Two of her sisters lived into their 90s, and an aunt and another sister lived to the age of 107.

An 1894 graduate of West Chester Normal School and College, Knapp taught for 42 years, including 30 years at the Baldwin School in Bryn Mawr.


Upon retiring in 1935, Knapp produced papers for the Montgomery County Historical Society.

She is survived by nieces and nephews.

Funeral services will be held at 1 p.m. Thursday at the Longenecker Funeral Home in North Wales. Burial will be in Whitemarsh Memorial Park, Prospectville.

The family has asked that any memorials be contributions to Dock Terrace, the nursing home where Knapp died in Lansdale.

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