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A Caroline County woman believed to have been the oldest woman in Virginia died at age 112.
Maggie James talks with Marquia, her great-great-granddaughter, at James' 109th birthday party.
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Date published: 6/7/2012
A Caroline County woman believed to have been the oldest woman in Virginia has died at age 112.
Maggie Margaret Montague James, affectionately known as Ms. Maggie, died in her sleep late Friday afternoon, said granddaughter Vernessa Ware.
She was born March 10, 1900, in Woodford, where she lived for 100 years until moving to the Bowling Green Health and Rehabilitation Center in 2000.
When asked about her secret to longevity, James would jokingly say "I believe God has forgotten about me."
But Ware says the real key to her grandmother's long life was following the doctor's orders.
Ware said that in the 1930s, James suffered from high blood pressure and was put on a strict diet.
She said the doctor told her not to eat pork and very little salt.
That's a diet she stuck to for the rest of her life, mainly eating chicken and fish.
"Her health was pretty good ever since then," Ware said.
According to Stephen Coles of the Gerontology Research Group, the global authority on validating supercentenarians, James was the oldest person in Virginia, the 12th oldest person in the United States and the 30th oldest person in the world as of May 27.
He was saddened to have to update the organization's website this week with the news of her death.
There are now 70 people--65 women and five men--in the world over the age of 110.
While at the Bowling Green health center, James was big on God and family.
"She loved to come to church, and her life revolved around her family," said activities assistant Sharon Johnson.
Johnson said they would have birthday parties for her every year, and she always had tons of visitors and flowers.
In 2009, she was personally invited to meet first lady Michelle Obama when she visited Bowling Green.
While she was happy to meet Mrs. Obama, the then-109-year-old James wasn't sure why there was so much excitement.
"Mrs. Obama puts on her pants one leg at a time like I do, so what's the fuss?" she told administrator Will Blackwell as they were preparing her for the visit.
Blackwell said James was a humble woman but had no problem speaking her mind.
In 1900, when Maggie James was born:
A loaf of bread cost
A quart of milk cost
A dozen eggs cost
Life expectancy at birth was 47 years old.
A public school teacher's salary was $328 per year.
--"The Value of a Dollar: 1860-2004," Grey House Publishing