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World's oldest person dies

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QUITO, Ecuador (AP) -- Maria Esther de Capovilla, believed to be the world's oldest person, has died at 116, her granddaughter said.

Catherine Capovilla, 46, a property manager and real estate agent in Miami, said Capovilla died Sunday at 3 a.m. local time in a hospital in the coastal city of Guayaquil. She died two days after coming down with pneumonia. Her funeral was planned for Monday.

Born on September 14, 1889 -- the same year as Charlie Chaplin and Adolf Hitler -- Capovilla was married in 1917 and widowed in 1949.

Robert Young, senior consultant for Gerontology for Guinness World Records, said Elizabeth Bolden of Memphis, Tennessee, now appears to be the oldest person alive.

"Guinness World Records will have to make an official announcement from London," he said. "For all practical purposes, the next oldest person is going to be presumed to be Elizabeth Bolden. She is 116, but she was born 11 months after Capovilla."

Capovilla was confirmed as the oldest living person on December 9, 2005, after her family sent details of her birth and marriage certificates to the British-based publisher. Emiliano Mercado Del Toro, of Puerto Rico, retains the title as oldest man at 114.

Three of Capovilla's five children -- Irma, Hilda, and son Anibal -- are still alive, along with 12 grandchildren, 20 great-grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren, Catherine Capovilla told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

In her youth, Capovilla liked to embroider, paint, play piano and dance the waltz at parties, the family said.

She always ate three meals a day and never smoked or drank hard liquor. "Only a small cup of wine with lunch and nothing more," Irma told AP last December.

For the past 20 years, Capovilla had lived with elder daughter, Hilda, and son-in-law, Martin.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Maria Esther de Capovilla said she liked to have a small cup of wine with lunch, but nothing more.

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