Susannah Mushatt Jones, whose life spanned three centuries, has died at age 116 and passed the title of the world’s oldest person to an Italian woman four months her junior.

“Miss Susie,” as her 100 nieces and nephews called her, died May 12 in New York. She worked most of her life as a live-in housekeeper and child-care provider and attributed her longevity to lots of sleep and no smoking or drinking alcohol. She was born in rural Alabama on July 6, 1899, the daughter of sharecroppers and granddaughter of slaves.

Emma Morano-Martinuzzi of Verbania, Italy, born Nov. 29, 1899, is now the oldest person living, according to gerontology researchers.

Woman sitting in chair laughing with man leaning over her (© AP Images)
With the death of Susannah Mushatt Jones, Italy’s Emma Morano — shown here smiling at her physician — is believed to be the last person in the world with a birthdate in the 1800s. (© AP Images)

Globally the average life expectancy at birth is 71, according to the World Health Organization. People in Japan tend to live longest (84) and those in Sierra Leone, hit hard by the AIDS epidemic, shortest (46).

Very, very few of us will make it to Miss Susie’s age. The Gerontology Research Group lists only about four dozen people on the planet who are 110 or older. Jeanne Calment, a Frenchwoman who died in 1997 at the age of 122 holds the all-time, verified record.