113-year-old New Jersey woman takes over title of oldest American

PITTSTOWN, New Jersey (WABC) -- There is a new holder of the title of oldest American, and she is from New Jersey.

Adele Dunlap graduated high school in Newark some 95 years ago. Now she is 113, and still going strong.

Confirmed records may say Adele is 113, but she begs to differ. "You're 113?", we asked. "No, I'm 104," she said.

And her activities director at the Country Arch Care Center in Pittstown has her back on that. "I think it's something women do, shave 10 years off, so 113, she's happy at 104, so we'll let her be 104. But she is 113, she'll be 114 this December," said Susan Dempster.

Miss Adele came to live at the care facility 14 years ago, on her own terms when she was ready at age 99..slowing down much later in life.

"I mean she was busy, she went to Ireland when she was 83. She said should I go. I said My God, why not," said her daughter-in-law Barbara Dunlap.

She is the oldest, but the facility is happily caring for seven more seniors who are 100 or more.

Adele became the country's oldest person earlier this month following the death of Goldie Michelson, of Worcester, Massachusetts, The Record newspaper reported.

She also is the 10th oldest person in the world, according to the Los Angeles-based Gerontology Research Group, which tracks supercentenarians, people 110 or older.

Dunlap taught school before marrying and settling down to raise the couple's three children. Her husband worked for an insurance company and died in 1963.

She doesn't give an explanation for her longevity, and her 86-year-old son, Earl, is also at a loss to credit any particular thing for his mother's long life.

"It's hard to say," Earl Dunlap said. "She never went out jogging or anything like that. She's not really thin, but she never weighed more than 140 pounds. She smoked, and when my father had his first heart attack, they both stopped. I think she ate anything she wanted."

Dempster said Dunlap is a passive participant in daily activities and socializes minimally, but looks forward to Girl Scouts' coming to sing Christmas carols.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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