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Oldest Living Man Dies Days Before Turning 114, 111-Year-Old Takes Title

End of unusual era when oldest man and woman were Americans

Nov. 20, 2004 - The world’s oldest living man, Fred Hale, Sr., died in his sleep Friday, while battling pneumonia. He would have celebrated his 114th birthday on Dec. 1. He drew national attention earlier this year for his devotion to the World Champion Boston Red Sox.

Hale was recognized by the Gerontology Research Group at the UCLA School of Medicine and the Guinness Book of World Records on March 5, as the oldest living man, when he was 113 years and 95 days old. He succeeded Spain's Joan Riudavets Moll.


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114 year old was only 92!

Maybe he told them how old he felt!

March 2, 2004 - Maybe he misunderstood the question. When they asked him how old he was, perhaps he answered with how old he felt. Anyway, William Coates who was reported to be 114 when he died last week, was really only 92 – a youngster among the oldest living people tracked by the Gerontology Research Group.

They report that U.S. Census records reveal Coates’ true age. The GRG, a nonprofit organization, keeps what it says is a carefully documented roster of people 110 or older.


When told he was the world's oldest man, he reportedly said, "I don't believe it. And I ain't going to die just to satisfy them."

Hale was born Dec. 1, 1890 in New Sharon, Maine. He retired as a railway postal clerk in 1957. He lived most of his life in Maine. The Guinness record notes that in the year of his birth the world also saw the Battle of Wounded Knee, Jack the Ripper stalking London, and Arthur Conan Doyle starting to write his Sherlock Holmes stories.

Guinness also notes he had seen 21 U.S. presidents and that he was also recorded as the world’s oldest driver – his license does not expire until 2008. He was able to cut the cake at his 113th birthday, according to his 83-year-old son, Fred Jr.

Hale gave credit for his longevity to bee pollen and honey that he ate daily. He also enjoyed an occasional nip of whiskey in the morning, according to the Associated Press

The oldest living woman recognized by Guinness is Ramona Trinidad Iglesias Jordan of Puerto Rico, which meant that, for only the second time ever, the world's oldest living man and oldest living woman both were U.S. citizens.

(Click to Guinness record page)

Haled died in a suburb of Syracuse, New York, at below is an excerpt from a column about him by Syracuse Post-Standard columnist Sean Kirst.

“Around the world, Fred Hale Sr. will be eulogized in this way: The oldest man in the world was a Boston Red Sox fan who kept waiting, year after year, to see his team win it all.

“This autumn, barely a month short of his 114th birthday, Hale finally got to enjoy that Red Sox title. He died in his sleep Friday at The Nottingham in DeWitt, just 23 days after that World Series triumph, as if it left him free to say farewell.

“It makes for one more fitting tale about these already legendary Sox, except that it isn't altogether true.

“Yes, Hale cared about the team. But it would be inaccurate to say the Red Sox were his greatest passion. Hale, for instance, did not specifically remember the last Red Sox championship in 1918, a World Series played when he was 27 years old. He came to his loyalty later in his life, and he began to follow the Red Sox for the most familiar of reasons:

His wife, Flora, was a fan. Until her death in 1979, she'd often listen to the games in the living room of their home in Maine. Their five children joined the Red Sox nation due mainly to their mother's loyalty. As the children grew up, Hale noticed the way they all cared about the team, and he ended up going to his share of games at Fenway Park.

More of the column in the Syracuse Post-Standard

Hale outlived his wife and three of his five children. He had nine grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren and 11 great-great-grandchildren.

The world’s oldest living man is now Hermann Dornemann, of Germany, age 111. There are 26 living women older than him, according to Gerontology Research Group.

A funeral service for Hale will be held Tuesday at Hobbs Funeral Home in South Portland. He’ll be buried in Farmington, Maine.

AP story with photo


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