Jeanne Calment was the world's oldest woman until she died in 1997, the age was remarkable enough but I have always found the story of Andre-Francois Raffray who made a deal with her when she was 90 years old to buy her apartment. in order to seal the deal and insure the apartment was his upon her death he agreed to pay her about $400 a month until she died and then the apartment would be his. She outlived him and he paid her over $180,000 dollars. Mrs. Calment comment was ''In life, one sometimes makes bad deals,''
Below is the New York Times associated Press article
Jeanne Calment, World's Elder, Dies at 122
By CRAIG R. WHITNEY
PARIS, Aug. 4— Jeanne Calment, born a year before Alexander Graham Bell patented his telephone and 14 years before Alexandre Gustave Eiffel built his tower, died today in a nursing home in Arles. At 122, she was the oldest person whose age had been verified by official documents.
Jean-Marie Robine, a public health researcher who is one of the authors of a book about Mrs. Calment, said she had been in good health, though almost blind and deaf, as recently as a month ago.
The French, who celebrated her as the doyenne of humanity, had their own theories about why she lived so long, noting that she used to eat more than two pounds of chocolate a week and treat her skin with olive oil, rode a bicycle until she was 100, and only quit smoking five years ago.
Longevity ran in the family; Mrs. Calment's mother lived until she was 86 and her father until he was 93. But Mr. Robine said her great strength was her unflappability.
''I think she was someone who, constitutionally and biologically speaking, was immune to stress,'' he said in a telephone interview. ''She once said, 'If you can't do anything about it, don't worry about it.' ''
Jeanne Louise Calment's claim to fame is the Feb. 21, 1875, listing in the birth register in Arles, the southern French city where she began her days and ended them.
She was 12 or 13 when she saw Vincent Van Gogh in Arles, and she said later that he was ''very ugly, ungracious, impolite, sick -- I forgive him, they called him loco.''
She married a cousin, Fernand Nicolas Calment, in 1896. As the prosperous owner of a store in Arles, he was able to support her in style, and she never had to work. She played tennis, took up roller skating, bicycling and swimming and took great pleasure in joining the hunting parties he organized. She also studied the piano and enjoyed the opera.
Her husband, 46 when World War I broke out, was too old for military service. His business survived the Depression, but a dessert of spoiled preserved cherries killed him, but not his wife, in 1942.
They had one child, a daughter, Yvonne, whose marriage to Joseph Billot produced a single child, Frederic Billot, in 1926. Eight years later, Yvonne died of pneumonia, and Mrs. Calment raised her grandson in the family home. He became a medical doctor and died before her, in an automobile accident in 1960.
Mrs. Calment rode a bicycle until she was 100 and walked all over Arles to thank those who congratulated her on her birthday that year.
At age 110 her increasing frailty forced her to move into a nursing home. ''She complained about the food in the nursing home, which was sort of like baby food,'' Mr. Robine said today. ''She said it always tasted the same.''
At the age of 115, she fell and fractured two bones, and her memory began to fail. But she retained a tart wit. ''When you're 117, you see if you remember everything!'' she rebuked an interviewer five years ago. When somebody took leave by telling her, ''Until next year, perhaps,'' she retorted: ''I don't see why not! You don't look so bad to me.''
By the time she turned 122, she was so hard of hearing that it was difficult to communicate with her.
The name of the person who has taken Mrs. Calment's place as oldest living human was a topic of considerable international confusion today. Philip Littlemore of the Guinness Book of World Records in London said the oldest known person whose date of birth was as well documented as Mrs. Calment's was Lucy Askew, a British woman who turned 104 last Sept. 8. But several others may also have claim to the title, including at least one in the United States.
Mrs. Calment left no heirs. She also outlived Andre-Francois Raffray, a lawyer who 32 years ago, when she was merely 90, bought the apartment she used to live in on a contingency contract. He would pay her 2,500 francs (now about $400) a month until she died, and then the apartment would become his.
Mr. Raffray died a year ago at 77, after paying Mrs. Calment more than $180,000, better than double the apartment's market value. His family was still paying when she died.
''In life, one sometimes makes bad deals,'' Mrs. Calment said.
Mr. Raffray's widow, Huguette, told French radio tonight: ''She was a personality. My husband had very good relations with Mrs. Calment.''
Michel Vauzelle, the Mayor of Arles, said: ''She was Jeanne the Arlesienne, one whose picture went around the world. But above all, she was the living memory of our city.''
She may be most famous in France for her many bons mots. One of them was: ''I've never had but one wrinkle, and I'm sitting on it.''