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Monday, March 8, 2010

 

Mary Josephine Ray oldest woman in United States dies

Mary Jo Ray departs peacefully, at age 114

JIM FENNELL
New Hampshire Union Leader 
March 8, 2010

Mary Josephine Ray hadn't been feeling well for the past couple of weeks, frequently staying in bed in her room at the Maplewood County Nursing Home in Westmoreland for much of the day. But the woman known for her longevity perked up one day recently when a reporter came around for an interview.

Barbara Ray said her mother-in-law got dressed, hopped into her wheelchair and did the interview, even singing a few of songs.

"She loved all the attention," Barbara Ray said.

Mary Josephine, born on May 17, 1895, passed away just after midnight yesterday at the age of 114. She was recognized by the Gerontology Research Group, which certifies claims of extreme old age, as the second oldest living person in the world at the time.

 Mary Josephine Ray, certified as the country's oldest woman, has died. She was 114 years old. Hooper/APMary Josephine Ray, certified as the country's oldest woman, has died. She was 114 years old.

March 8, 2010 philbrick 360px (FILE) 

Barbara Ray, who lives in Westmoreland with her husband, said she received a call from the nursing home just past midnight to tell her of Mary Josephine's passing.

She was told the lady known at Mary Jo died peacefully in her sleep.

"I think we're going to miss her; she was a big part of our day," said Trisha Moore, a licensed nursing assistant who worked on the floor where Mary Josephine lived.

A funeral will be held Thursday in Madison, Maine (See Obituary on Page B4). Mary Josephine was a native of Prince Edward island, Canada, but lived in Maine for nearly 60 years.

She will be buried in Forest Hill Cemetery in Madison, joining her husband Walter Ray, who died in 1967.

Mary Josephine moved into Maplewood at the age of 102 to live close to her son, daughter-in-law and a granddaughter, Katherine Ray.

"She had been with us so long," Barbara Ray said. "I always said God knows best, and He would know when to take her. I think everything just gave out."

The Cheshiremen Chorus, an a cappella group that sings in barbershop style, would visit the home every year on Mary Josephine's birthday to sing to her.

Mary Josephine was recognized as the second oldest person in the world in November when a woman in upstate New York died at the age of 114. The oldest person in the world is believed to be a woman in Japan, Kama Chinen, who was born one week before Mary Josephine.

"When she got mail from fans, she got really excited," Moore said, adding Mary Josephine was particularly pleased recently when one girl wrote asking for her autograph.

Neva Morris, 114, of Ames, Iowa, is now considered the oldest person in the United States. 


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