Cooper is presently the world's oldest person, a title that she has been recognised with twice to date. The first time was on 31 January 2011, when Eunice Sanborn of Texas, United States died at the age of 114 years, 195 days. Sanborn, who was born on 20 July 1896, died after what was recognised as a 88-day reign that began on 4 November 2010 upon the death of Eugénie Blanchard from Saint Barthélemy, France.
At that time, the title was then handed to Cooper, who was aged 114 years, 158 days at the time, then considered the highest age that any world's oldest person had taken the title at in the previous year and half.
|Cooper, seen here at her 113th birthday party on 26 August 2009.|
At the time, she was recognised as the world's twelfth-oldest living person.
Valentim died 34 days later, on 21 June 2011, aged 114 years, 347 days, and the title was handed back to Cooper, a honour she has held ever since, for a total of 166 days as of 4 December 2011. Cooper was aged 114 years 299 days at the time of Valentim's death, which makes her the oldest person ever to take the "world's oldest person" title out of all those who took it at age 114 and the seventh-oldest "new" titleholder since 1955.
|Cooper in August 2004, aged 108.|
Cooper is the oldest person to date ever born in the year 1896, a distinction she earned on 9 August 2011, aged 114 years, 348 days, having surpassed Maria Gomes Valentim's age. On 19 August 2011, she also became the oldest person ever to date to have lived in the 2010s decade, having surpassed Kama Chinen (10 May 1895 - 2 May 2010), who died aged 114 years, 357 days.
Cooper, who graduated from East Tennessee State University in 1916 aged 20, had parents who were step-siblings; Richard Brown (1861-1932), her father, was the son of Cooper's grandmother, with her husband being the father of Cooper's mother, Angeline Berry (1866-1927). Both Cooper's parents were borne through her grandparents' previous marriages, with the opposite spouse predeceasing them in both cases. Her married name is derived from her husband, Luther Cooper (1895-1963). As of her 115th birthday, she had four living children, with the eldest being born when she was 33 and the youngest when she was 48; as a former schoolteacher, Cooper was not permitted to have children during her teaching term.
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