March 8, 2010 / 3:43 PM / in 8 years

Oldest American dies at 114

BOSTON (Reuters) - Mary Josephine Ray, a sports-loving card-player who was the oldest person living in the United States, died on Sunday at the age of 114.

Ray, who was born before Henry Ford built his first car or Marconi patented the radio, died at Maplewood Nursing Home in Westmoreland, New Hampshire, where she had lived since the age of 101, Steven Wilson, the home’s activity director, said.

Born on May 17, 1895 in Canada, Ray was the world’s second-oldest person according to the Gerontology Research Group, which maintains a registry of the oldest people. It says Kama Chinen of Japan was born seven days before Ray.

According to the group’s website, the oldest American is now Neva Morris of Iowa, born August 3, 1895.

Ray was a big sports fan -- particularly of the Boston Red Sox baseball team -- and liked to play cards, particularly rummy, which she played at least twice a week, Wilson said.

“Mary would always win, one way or another,” Wilson said.

She outlived her husband, Walter Ray, by more than 40 years and is survived by two sons, eight grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren and five great-great-grandchildren.

Reporting by Scott Malone; editing by David Storey

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