Walter Breuning – reputedly the world’s oldest man – died on April 14, 2011, aged 114 years, 205 days.
The oldest undisputed American-born man on record, he was the last known surviving man who was born in 1896.
Breuning was in good health. He was a lifelong cigar smoker, but quit in 1999, aged 103. He was able to walk, and ate two meals a day.
He maintained a sharp mind and accurate memory. For example, he could remember his grandfather talking about his experiences in the American Civil War when he was three years old, and remembered the day President William McKinley was shot as the day “I got my first haircut.”
The secret to longevity? On his 112th birthday, Breuning said the secret to long life is being active: “If you keep your mind busy and keep your body busy, you’re going to be around a long time.”
Here are a few more of his tips:
- Embrace change, even when the change slaps you in the face. “Every change is good.”
- Eat two meals a day. “That’s all you need.”
- Work as long as you can. “That money’s going to come in handy.”
- Help others. “The more you do for others, the better shape you’re in.”
- Accept death. “We’re going to die. Some people are scared of dying. Never be afraid to die. Because you’re born to die,” he said.
During his 113th birthday celebrations, Breuning said: “Remember that life’s length is not measured by its hours and days, but by that which we have done therein. A useless life is short if it lasts a century. There are greater and better things in us all, if we would find them out. There will always be in this world – wrongs. No wrong is really successful. The day will come when light and truth and the just and the good shall be victorious and wrong as evil will be no more forever.”