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120! Yes, that’s right, One Hundred..TWENTY!!

Rebecca Lanier, believed by many to be the oldest woman in the world at 120 years of age, died Monday.

Relatives and friends have sought to prove that she was the oldest living woman, though her 1892 birthdate is in question.

The Guinness World Records has refused to recognize her for her age because she has no birth certificate – common among many people born at that time. It recognizes 115-year-old Besse Cooper of Georgia as the world’s oldest living person.

Lanier had lived with her grandson, Jimmie Shambley, 62, in Warrensville Heights since 2004.

“What I’ll remember most about her is that she lived a long life, she was healthy, and she was very outgoing and a beautiful lady,” he said. “She did Tai Chi regularly at the Warrensville Heights Senior Center, and she loved to travel.”

Shambley and his wife Rebecca were at Lanier’s side when she died at 12:33 p.m. on Monday. He said doctors discovered she had liver cancer three weeks ago.

“Up to that point, she was as healthy as any person could ever hope to be,” Shambley said.

Lanier was born in Mississippi but spent most of her life in Alabama, Shambley said. Her husband, James, died in 1961. Two daughters also are deceased.

Lanier moved from Birmingham to Warrensville Heights, Shambley said, after her last daughter died in 2004. Lanier had seven grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren, 18 great-great-grandchildren and four great-great-great-grandchildren.

Shambley said his grandmother was mostly able to care for herself. She needed help primarily to go to the lower level of Shambley’s ranch home to take a shower, and with being wheeled to the Menorah Park Center for Senior Living pickup van.

The grandson has a letter from the regional Social Security office and a state identification card accepting March 24, 1892, as Lanier’s birthdate. A statement on the Guinness website says the organization requires birth certificates, not “later in life” documents like the Social Security letter.

May you FINALLY rest in peace Rebecca.


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