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Oldest Person in U.S. Dies Weeks Before Her 114 Birthday

Update Date: Apr 02, 2013 01:24 PM EDT

The oldest person in the United States has passed away at age 113 in her Florida home just weeks before her 114th birthday.

Elsie Calvert Thompson was born on April 5, 1899 in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, and died peacefully on March 21, according to Associated Press. She was the fourth oldest-person in the world.

Her family has held a memorial service for her in Clearwater, Florida, where Elsie had lived since 1971, and her ashes will be buried next to her late husband in Pennsylvania.

Her husband, Ronald Thompson, had been a Republican state senator in Pennsylvania.  The couple moved to Clearwater in 1971 and Ronald died in 1986.

Elsie is survived by her only child, George Thompson, 72, and her four grandchildren.

According to the Daily Mail, her son George said she died as he was on his way from his home in California to see her.  He said she had suffered congestive heart failure.

"She had such a big heart," he told The Tampa Bay Times on Sunday. "She was such a large person."

Elsie, who was born during President William McKinley's administration and just a year after the end of the Spanish-American War, had been a stylish dresser who liked ballroom dancing.  She had also loved to sing and play the piano, according to The Tampa Bay Times.

According to caregiver Susie Harper, 59, Elsie was never in a bad mood.  Harper said Elsie would rise from bed every morning with a smile on her face and was a "tireless hostess" who always offered her guests food and drink despite being a centenarian.

"She would wake up and say, 'Oh my, won't you look outside? Isn't it beautiful?' And if it was raining, she would say, 'That's okay, we'll make our own sunshine,'" Harper said.

At age 111, Elsie had told the Times her secret to long life.

"I love people," she told The Tampa Bay Times back then.

Elsie has passed her title to Jeralean Talley, who was born on May 23, 1899.

Jeralean, who is now the oldest person in America, is from Inkster Michigan. Jeralean is also the oldest living black person and says "the Lord" is her secret to longevity.

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