‘Hard work and faith in serving God’ — why Violet Brown lived for 117 years, 189 days

Violet Brown, a Jamaican who until Friday was the world’s oldest person, lived for 117 years and 189 days. Want to know why she lived that long? Hard work and Christian faith.

Brown, who lived through three centuries, was born on March 10, 1900. She also made history for being the oldest living person with the oldest living, who eventually died at 97 n April, few days after she was named the world’s oldest person.

She took over the title of the oldest living person in the world in April from Emma Morano from Italy, who died at the age of 117 years and 137 days.


Anytime Brown was asked about the secret of her longevity, she would say: “My faith in serving God, and believing strongly in the teaching of the bible,” according to a foundation instituted in her honour by one of her grandchildren.

“She is especially fond of the part of the scripture in the Bible that says honour your parents that your days on this earth may be long.”

“I love the Church, the devout Christian told a Jaimaican newsper, the Gleaner, in 2010.

“I have been baptised since I was 13 years old and I have over 50 years of staunch contribution to the Church.”

Apart from crediting her longevity to her devout Christian life, she said hard work kept her going, as she remembered the days she used to walk three miles barefooted to fetch water and be home in time to go to school by 9 a.m.

“I tell you, these young people these days have it easy — piped water, taxis and buses to bring them where they want to go.

“Everything to their convenience. When I was younger, and even as an adult, I had to work so hard that sometimes when I look back, I cry at how hard I had to work to make a living for my family.”


Longevity is often attributed to good eating habit bust Brown said she ate everything, except pork and chicken.

“Really and truly, when people ask me what I eat and drink to live so long, I say to them that I eat everything, except pork and chicken, and I don’t drink rum and dem tings,” she told the Gleaner.

“You know, sometimes I ask myself, ‘Am I really 110 years old?’ Because I don’t feel like 110.”


Brown was born in the small town of Duanvale, located in Trelawny Parish, Jamaica. She lived in the house that she was born until she died.

She married Augustus Gaynor Brown and they had six children she told the Gleaner four sons and two daughters.

She worked as a domestic helper, farmer and a dressmaker. She became a widow in 1978.

Brown was strong throughout her lifetime and did not suffer any major illness apart from mild deafness. She said she did not feel her age, attributing her long life to “serving God and working hard”.


The Gerontology Research Group (GRG) keeps a validated list of supercentenarians, persons that have lived more than 110.

Most supercentenarians, according to the GRG, are women. In this elite club, it is 42 women to one man.

The GRG is the official consultant on supercentenarians by Guinness World Records.



    Guinness told the News that while they work with the GRG to verify the oldest living person, they will conduct additional research before awarding the next person in line with the official title of World’s Oldest Person.

    “There are a number of candidates we are researching at the present time, therefore there is no confirmation of the new title holder, nor will there be until our thorough processes are complete,” said Jakki Lewis, a Guinness World Records spokesperson.

    Following the demise of Brown, the next on the list of oldest persons is Japan’s Nabi Tajima, who is 116 years and 256 days old.

    The longest confirmed human lifespan in history is that of Jeanne Calment who died on August 4, 1997 at the age of 122 years and 164 days.

    Chikezie can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @KezieOmeje

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