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Jan 29, 2007 9:36 pm

Shortest ever reign for world's oldest person

"World's oldest person" was never likely to be the safest berth in the Guinness Book of Records, but the title's escalating attrition rate has now claimed its own place in the famous tome - "shortest ever reign as world's oldest person".

Emma Tillman, 114, a former nurse to Katharine Hepburn, was born to former slaves and lived to see 21 American presidencies.

Sadly, however, she lived to see little of her own "presidency" in the records book as she died at a nursing home on Sunday - just four days after becoming the world's oldest-known living person.

According to Robert Young, senior consultant for gerontology for Guinness World of Records, in dying so soon, Miss Tillman set a new record as her reign was the shortest so far recorded.

Miss Tillman, who died peacefully with family relatives at her side in East Hartford, Connecticut, had taken the title from a pensioner who himself hardly had long to enjoy his status.

Emiliano Mercado del Toro, 115, died of natural causes at his home in Puerto Rico only six weeks after inheriting the title.

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