Aged 116, Besse Cooper, the US woman named as the world’s oldest person by Guinness World Records, died Tuesday at a nursing home in the town of Monroe, 45 miles east of Atlanta, Georgia.
The Tennessee-born teacher died ‘peacefully,’ said her son Sidney Cooper.
Mr. Cooper said his mother had been taken ill with stomach ulcers on Saturday, but then felt better on Monday.
He said she had her hair set on Tuesday and then suffered breathing problems after watching a movie. She was afterwards rushed to the nursing home where she was put on oxygen but died a short while later.
"With her hair fixed, it looked like she was ready to go," Mr Cooper told the AP.
Guinness World Records certified Ms Cooper as the world's oldest person in January 2011. Later in May, another Brazilian woman, Maria Gomes Valentin, who however died the following month, was discovered to be 48 days older than Ms Cooper.
"It's a sad day for me," Robert Young, Guinness senior consultant for gerontology, told The Telegraph.
He remembers meeting Ms Cooper when she was aged 111. "At that age, she was doing really well, she was able to read books," he said.
The world’s oldest person ever, according to Guinness, was French-born woman Jeanne Calment who died in 1997 aged 122.
The title now belongs to Iowa-based 115-year-old Dina Manfredini.
Born in Tennessee, Ms Cooper moved to Georgia during World War I in pursuit of a career as a teacher.
Mr. Cooper said funeral arrangements are ongoing and could be held later this week.