Salustiano Sanchez-Blazquez: The world's oldest man


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The Independent Online

Salustiano Sanchez-Blazquez, who has died aged 112, was the world's oldest man, having held the title for just three months. He took the baton from Jiroemon Kimura, who died in Japan in June this year, aged 116.

Sanchez-Blazquez was born in 1901 in the village of El Tejado de Bejar, Salamanca Province, Spain. He left school at the age of 10 and earned pocket money playing the dulzaina, a wind instrument, at weddings and village celebrations. At the age of 17 he emigrated with his brother Pedro and a group of friends to Cuba, to work in the sugar-cane fields. Three years later he took a boat to the United States, landing at Ellis Island.

He worked as a miner in Lynch, Kentucky, at what was then the world's largest coal camp, run by the US Coal & Coke Company and employing more than 10,000 men. He later moved to Niagara Falls, where he worked for Scrufari Construction Company and Union Carbide.

His daughter, Irene Johnson, said that he believed he did not deserve any special recognition and would say, "I'm an old man and let's leave it at that". While Sanchez-Blazquez – nicknamed "Shorty" – attributed his longevity to eating a banana and six Anacin (aspirin and caffeine) tablets a day, Johnson suggested that "I think it's just because he's an independent, stubborn man."

His descendants include a son and a daughter, seven grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren and five great-great-grandchildren. He had lived for the past six years at a nursing home in Grand Island, New York State, where he died. The new candidate for the world's oldest man is Arturo Licata, 111, who lives in Italy. The world's oldest person is 115-year-old Misao Okawa of Japan.

Salustiano Sanchez-Blazquez, supercentarian; born El Tejado de Bejar, Salamanca, Spain 8 June 1901; married 1934 Pearl Chiasera (died 1988; one son, one daughter); died Grand Island, New York 13 September 2013.