In this file photo, Jules Theobald speaks during an interview after he was officially named the oldest man in France in Fort-de-France. – AFP

FORT-DE-FRANCE: France’s oldest man Jules Theobald has died at the age of 112, his family told AFP Tuesday. Theobald, who hailed from the Caribbean island of Martinique, a French overseas department, died at his home in the island’s main city Fort-de-France. Born on April 17, 1909 – though family legend had it he was born two years earlier – the father of three worked as a docker and a fisherman. In a 2019 interview with AFP he insisted feistily that “if it were down to me I could live until I’m 200! I’ve had a good little life! I don’t have any regrets.”

As recently as March, residents had voted the keen dancer and domino player honorary president of his Pointe des Negres home district. “He will leave a great void, although his passing was rather expected,” Fort-de-France deputy mayor Steeve Moreau told AFP. “He loved his district. He knew everybody and everybody knew him – he was very close to people.” The oldest man in the world is Spain’s Saturnino de la Fuente Garcia, aged 112 years and 236 days as of Tuesday. He was born two months and one week before Theobald.

France was also home to the oldest person ever whose age has been independently verified – Jeanne Calment, who died in 1997 aged 122 years and 164 days. The oldest known living person is now Japanese woman Kane Tanaka of Japan, aged 118 years, 276 days. French nun Lucile Randon – who survived COVID earlier this year – is meanwhile the oldest known living European, aged 117 and 236 days. Japan’s Jiroemon Kimura, who died in 2013 aged 116 years and 54 days, was the oldest man ever whose age has been verified. – AFP