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World Oldest People - Third Spot - Sarah DeRemer Clark Knauss

Sarah DeRemer Clark Knauss (September 24, 1880 December 30, 1999) was considered the "world's oldest person" by Guinness Book of World Records from April 16, 1998 until her eventual death at age 119. Aged 117, Sarah set the record for the oldest "new" titleholder (which corresponds to the highest "valley" on a graph of the oldest living persons over time). She died a mere 33 hours before the year 2000, bringing to an end the last verified living person born before 1885.


Sarah DeRemer Clark was born in a small United States coal mining town, Hollywood, Pennsylvania (which no longer exists), and eventually she died in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Back in 1901 she married Abraham Lincoln Knauss (December 19, 1878 - March 1, 1965). Abraham became a well-known Republican leader in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania. Upon the 1998 death of Marie-Louise Meilleur, she was for a while the oldest recognized person in the world.

Knauss was a homemaker and had an earlier career as an insurance office manager. Her daughter, Kathryn Sullivan (1903-2005), who was 96 at the time of Sarah's death, once explained Knauss' three-digit age by saying: "She's a very tranquil person and nothing fazes her. That's why she's living this long."

In 1995, when Sarah was asked if she enjoyed her long life, Knauss said matter-of-factly: "I enjoy it because I have my health and I can do things." Her passions included watching golf on television, doing needlepoint, and nibbling on milk chocolate turtles, cashews, and potato chips. "Sarah was an elegant lady and worthy of all the honor and adulation she had received," said Joseph Hess, an Administrator of the Phoebe-Devitt Homes Foundation facility where Knauss died quietly in her room. Officials said that, to their knowledge, she had not been ill so must have just died of old age.

Knauss lived through seven U.S. wars, twenty three U.S. Presidents, the sinking of the RMS Titanic and Charles Lindbergh's solo flight across the Atlantic. She was older than the Brooklyn Bridge and even the Statue of Liberty, and was already 88 when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon in July of 1969!

Apart from her daughter, Knauss was also survived by a grandson, three great-granddaughters, and five great-great grandchildren.

When she was 116 she was recognized as the United States national longevity recordholder, then thought to be held by the meanwhile disputed Carrie White (1874?-1991). It is now believed that the record should have been held by Lucy Hannah (117 years and 248 days), who died in 1993. In any case, Sarah extended the U.S. record to age 119. She lived to see her daughter turn 96, and passed away 33 hours before the year 2000. Some scientific circles consider her to be the second-oldest person ever, though Guinness and this site recognize her as third, after Jeanne Calment (1875-1997) and the also in the meantime disputed Shigechiyo Izumi (1865?-1986) respectively.

She is considered to have been the last remaining living member of the Missionary Generation.

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