117-Year-Old Sakha Woman Was Believed World's Oldest

www.gazetayakutia.ruSemennikova
A hunter and herdswoman from Arctic Russia, believed by some to be the world's oldest living person, has died.

Varvara Semennikova, who belonged to a local indigenous tribe, the Evenks, is believed to have been 117 years old when she died Sunday in the northern republic of Sakha, Interfax reported Tuesday.

Staff in the republic's national archive last year found church records proving that Semennikova was born in May 1890, Interfax reported. She was officially recognized as Russia's oldest person at the time of her death.

The Guinness World Records recognizes the United States' Edna Parker, 115, as the world's oldest living person.

Born Varvara Dyakonova in the village of Zhigansk, Semennikova was twice married but lost all of her biological children in their youth, the web site SakhaNews.ru reported. At age 58 she adopted an eight-month-old girl who eventually had children of her own. Semennikova had several grandchildren and great-grandchildren at the time of her death, the web site said.

Something of a local celebrity, Semennikova smoked until she was 100 years old, SakhaNews.ru reported.

She received numerous awards and commendations from regional and federal officials. In 2003, the regional government presented Semennikova with a gift of 100,000 rubles and a necklace containing 36 diamonds. In October, the Federation Council presented her with a certificate of honor.

According to the Guinness Book of Records, the longest any woman has lived is 122 years. The oldest man was 120 when he died, in 1986.