June 8, 1901 – Sept. 13, 2013
The oldest man in the world, Salustiano “Shorty” Sanchez, of Grand Island, died Friday at Riverwood Health Care Center at the age of 112.
Mr. Sanchez – whose long life would take him from the sugar cane fields of Cuba to the coal mines of Kentucky before he settled down in Niagara Falls – ascended to top of the Guinness World Records list following the death of 116-year-old Jiroemon Kimura of Japan on June 12.
A private service and interment will be held in Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Lewiston at the convenience of the family.
Mr. Sanchez was born in the Spanish village of El Tejado de Bejar on June 8, 1901.
He left school at age 10, and as a young man had the talent for playing a Spanish wind instrument known as the dulzania. At 17, Mr. Sanchez, an older brother and some friends left Spain for Cuba, where they worked in sugar cane fields.
Mr. Sanchez came to the United States through Ellis Island in August 1920, and found his way to Lynch, Ky., where he was hired as a coal miner. In the early 1930s, Mr. Sanchez headed north to Niagara Falls, where he settled down and married Pearl Chiasera on April 7, 1934.
Mr. Sanchez worked for Scrufari Construction Co., and later Union Carbide, where he was employed for more than 30 years.
Affectionately known to family and friends as “Shorty,” Mr. Sanchez enjoyed gardening, taking long walks, doing crossword puzzles and playing gin rummy. He was a former member of the Spanish Club of Niagara Falls.
He and his wife were married 54 years before she died in 1988.
After her death, Mr. Sanchez lived with his daughter, Irene Johnson of Grand Island, until 2007, when he moved to the nursing home.
He attributed his good health to eating a banana and taking six Anacin tablets each day. But when Mr. Sanchez was certified as the oldest man by Guinness, he took his newfound fame in stride.
“He says, ‘I’m an old man and let’s leave it at that,’ ” his daughter told the Associated Press in July.
Guinness says the oldest person in the world is a woman, 115-year-old Misao Okawa of Japan, the AP reported. 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 Robert Young, senior gerontology consultant with Guinness World Records. Guinness will make a pronouncement on Licata at a later date.
Besides his daughter, Mr. Sanchez is survived by a son, John; seven grandchildren; 15 great-grandchildren; and five great-great-grandchildren.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.