Oldest Living American Dies Days After Her Birthday

Edith “Edie” Ceccarelli, who recently celebrated her 116th birthday and was known as the oldest living American, has died.

Ceccarelli died on Feb. 22 — 17 days after her 116th birthday, according to Suzanne Picetti-Johnson, who helped organize Ceccarelli’s birthday parade in early February.

Picetti-Johnson told Nexstar’s KTXL that Edie died peacefully in her sleep sometime in the afternoon. “She was an inspiration to all of us on how to live a long healthy life,” Suzanne Picetti-Johnson told KTXL in a phone interview on Tuesday.

Picetti-Johnson works as the program director for Avenues to Wellness, a healthcare program through the Frank R. Howard Foundation, and has helped organize Ceccarelli’s birthday celebrations for the past four years.

Birthday celebrations for Ceccarelli became an annual tradition in recent years in Willits, where she was born and raised.

The town has a population of 4,988 people and is in Mendocino County, located about 160 miles northwest of Sacramento.

The drive-by parade tradition continued on Feb. 4 of this year, a day before her actual birthday, when people drove by her home to honk their horns and wave at Ceccarelli.

“She loved people, she loved her community, she loved her family and stayed connected her whole life,” Picetti-Johnson said. “She showed us how to live.” 

With Ceccarelli’s passing, the oldest living American is now 114-year-old Elizabeth Francis in Texas, according to the Gerontology Research Group.

Maria Branyas Morera, who was born in San Francisco and resides in Spain, currently is the oldest living person in the world at 116, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Branyas is several months older than Ceccarelli.

A look into Edie’s life

Born on Feb. 5, 1908, with Recagno as her maiden name, Ceccarelli lived in California her entire life and was the eldest of seven siblings. 

Throughout her life, Ceccarelli lived in different places in Northern California, such as Eureka, Santa Rosa, and Ukiah. 

She lived in Santa Rosa with her first husband Brick Keenan and worked for the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. They were married for 50 years until Keenan died in 1984 after they moved to Willits. 

After her first husband died, she married a second time to a man named Charles Ceccarelli and they lived together in Ukiah. They were married for five years until his death. 

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