Nation/World

Oldest American Dies At 114 Garfield Was President When Mary Bidwell Was Born

Mary Electa Bidwell, the oldest-living American, has died at age 114.

Bidwell, who was born on May 9, 1881, when James Garfield was president and Queen Victoria ruled half the world, died Thursday at a convalescent home here.

Her grandson, William Bradford Bidwell, said she began to fail physically during the past two months.

When Bidwell was recognized by the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest-living American in November 1995, she said she did not have the answer to her longevity, but that she never drank or smoked. She said she loved fresh fruit and hot coffee.

Once asked to name the greatest achievement attained by women, she replied: “The vote!”

She said she cast her first ballot in the 1920 presidential election.

She was 39 years old and voted for the winner, Republican candidate Warren G. Harding.

Jeanne Calment is considered by Guinness to be the world’s oldest living person. The Arles, France resident marked her 121st birthday in February.

A former schoolteacher in Watertown, Bidwell said her main loves in life were books and her family.

Her husband of 69 years, Charles, died in 1975 at the age of 93.

Their only child, Charles Bradford Bidwell, died in 1945. She is survived by her two grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.



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