GRAND ISLAND, N.Y. (AP) — The world’s oldest man, a 112-year-old self-taught musician, coal miner and gin rummy aficionado from western New York, has died.
Salustiano Sanchez-Blazquez died Friday at a nursing home in Grand Island, according to Robert Young, senior gerontology consultant with Guinness World Records.
Sanchez-Blazquez became the world’s oldest man when Jiroemon Kimura died June 12 at age 116.
Born June 8, 1901, in village of El Tejado de Bejar, Spain, he was known for his talent on the dulzaina, a double-reed wind instrument that he taught himself and played at weddings and village celebrations. At 17, he moved with his older brother Pedro and a group of friends to Cuba, where they worked in the cane fields.
In 1920, he came to the United States through Ellis Island and worked in the coal mines of Lynch, Ky. Ultimately, he moved to the Niagara Falls area of New York, where he worked in construction and in the industrial furnaces. He married his wife, Pearl, in 1934.
A spokeswoman for Sanchez-Blazquez’s family did not immediately return a phone message Saturday.
In a statement provided by Guinness World Records earlier this summer, Sanchez-Blazquez — whose nickname was “Shorty” — said he was humbled by the attention, saying he didn’t feel he accomplished anything special just because he has lived longer than most.
“He says, ‘I’m an old man and let’s leave it at that,'” his daughter, 69-year-old Irene Johnson, said at the time. Sanchez-Blazquez lived with Johnson in Grand Island after his wife died in 1988; he moved to a nursing home in 2007.
“We did our best,” Johnson said. “We weren’t going to put him somewhere just because he was old.”
Sanchez-Blazquez had said his longevity was attributed to eating one banana per day and his daily dose of six Anacin tablets. His daughter had another theory.
“I think it’s just because he’s an independent, stubborn man,” she said.
Besides his daughter, Sanchez-Blazquez had a 76-year-old son, John, seven grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren and five great-great-grandchildren.
Guinness says the world’s oldest person is a woman, 115-year-old Misao Okawa of Japan.
Young said 90 percent of all supercentenarians are female and Sanchez-Blazquez had been the only male born in 1901 with proof of birth.
Arturo Licata, 111, of Italy, is now the leading candidate to be officially recognized by Guinness as the current world’s oldest man, according to Young. Guinness will make a pronouncement on Licata at a later date.
The oldest authenticated person was Jeanne Louise Calment of France, who died at the age of 122 years and 164 days.
Sanchez-Blazquez is to be buried at Gate of Heaven cemetery in Lewiston, N.Y. following a private funeral, according to John Colucci, of M.J. Colucci & Son Funeral Chapels.