World's oldest man dies in U.S. at 112

Guinness World Records says the former musician and coal miner certified as the world's oldest man has died. Salustiano Sanchez-Blazquez was 112.

Grand Island, N.Y., man was a former musician and cold miner

Guinness World Records says the former musician and coal miner certified as the world's oldest man has died. Sanchez-Blazquez was 112. (Guiness World Records/The Associated Press, file)

The world's oldest man, a 112-year-old self-taught musician, coal miner and gin rummy aficionado from western New York, has died. He was 112.

Salustiano Sanchez-Blazquez died Friday at a nursing home in Grand Island, according to Robert Young, senior gerontology consultant with Guinness World Records.

Sanchez-Blazquez became the world's oldest man when Jiroemon Kimura died June 12 at age 116.

Born June 8, 1901, in the village of El Tejado de Bejar, Spain, he was known for his talent on the dulzaina, a double-reed wind instrument that he taught himself and played at weddings and village celebrations. At 17, he moved with his older brother Pedro and a group of friends to Cuba, where they worked in the cane fields.

In 1920, he came to the United States through Ellis Island and worked in the coal mines of Lynch, Kentucky. Ultimately, he moved to the Niagara Falls area of New York, where he worked in construction and in the industrial furnaces. He married his wife, Pearl, in 1934.

Banana a day

A spokeswoman for Sanchez-Blazquez's family did not immediately return a phone message Saturday.

In a statement provided by Guinness World Records earlier this summer, Sanchez-Blazquez — whose nickname was Shorty — said he was humbled by the attention, saying he didn't feel he accomplished anything special just because he has lived longer than most.

"He says, `I'm an old man and let's leave it at that,"' his daughter, 69-year-old Irene Johnson, said at the time. Sanchez-Blazquez lived with Johnson in Grand Island after his wife died in 1988; he moved to a nursing home in 2007.

"We did our best," Johnson said. "We weren't going to put him somewhere just because he was old."

Sanchez-Blazquez had said his longevity was attributed to eating one banana per day and his daily dose of six Anacin tablets. His daughter had another theory.

"I think it's just because he's an independent, stubborn man," she said.

Big family

Besides his daughter, Sanchez-Blazquez had a 76-year-old son, John, seven grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren and five great-great-grandchildren.

Guinness says the world's oldest person is a woman, 115-year-old Misao Okawa of Japan.

Young said 90 percent of all supercentenarians are female and Sanchez-Blazquez had been the only male born in 1901 with proof of birth.

Arturo Licata, 111, of Italy, is now the leading candidate to be officially recognized by Guinness as the current world's oldest man, according to Young. Guinness will make a pronouncement on Licata at a later date.

The oldest authenticated person was Jeanne Louise Calment of France, who died at the age of 122 years and 164 days.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.