She was generally regarded as the oldest person in the world. Rebecca Lanier, at age 120, took her last breath on Aug. 13.

She lived with one of her grandsons, Jimmy Shambley, who is 62, in his suburban Cleveland home. Born in 1892, Lanier outlived her husband, who died in 1961, and her two daughters, who lived into their 80s.

“She would say, ‘Everybody is dead,'” said Rebecca Shambley, Lanier’s granddaughter, with whom she had breakfast every day in the Shambleys’ home in Warrensville Heights, a quiet community about ten miles from downtown Cleveland.

“Every morning, she would have three slices of bacon, grits, and a glass of orange juice,” said Rebecca Shambley.

Following a short illness, Lanier died quietly. The Social Security Administration reported her 120 years of life placed her in the category of the oldest living person in the United States. Lanier’s grandson proudly display the letter she received from the administration acknowledging her birth as in March 1892.

Because she was black, Lanier had no official birth certificate. It was common in Mississippi and other Southern states during those years that the births of black babies were not chronicled officially. For that reason, the Guinness Book of World Records refused to acknowledge her as the oldest living American or oldest on the planet.

“I know for sure she was the oldest healthy person in the world,” said Jimmy Shambley. “She got around until the last three weeks of her life.”

Lanier was often seen riding in the car driven by her relatives. Daily, she visited a day care center for seniors, where she made many friends.

Lanier was born in South Point, Miss, only 27 years after the Civil War. Her parents had been slaves. Her birth came during depths of the Jim Crow anti-black days.

During a 2011 interview on the occasion of her 119th birthday, she spoke of what she remembered in the early part of her life.

“Working for the white folks,” she said matter-of-factly.

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