Sarah DeRemer Clark Knauss (September 24, 1880 – December 30, 1999) was considered the "world's oldest person" from April 16, 1998 until her eventual death at age 119.
At age 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). Only 1 in 1000 centenarians reach the age of 110. Further, only 2 percent of supercentenarians live to see age 115. When informed that she was now the world's oldest living person, Sarah nonchalantly replied, "So what?"
Sarah was born in a small United States coal mining town, Hollywood, Pennsylvania(which no longer exists). Her parents, Walter and Amelia Clark, moved to Bethlehem, PA when Sarah was a child, and eventually she died in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Back in 1901 she married Abraham Lincoln Knauss (December 19, 1878 - March 1, 1965) at 21. Abraham became a well-known Republican leader in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania. The couple remained wedded for 64 years, until his untimely death at 86.
Knauss was a homemaker who lived a quiet life, 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."
Her grandchildren regarded her as a "kind disciplinarian" who "only cared about her family."
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 who was 28 when Henry Ford introduced the Model T in 1908, 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.
She is considered to have been the last remaining living member of the Missionary Generation.
Sarah died at the age of 119 in Allentown, Pennsylvania at the nursing home where she had lived for the last nine years of her life. "She was a wonderful grandmother," said Robert Butz, 72, a retired insurance broker from Berks County. "She was very understanding and always had something for you."
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