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Walter Breuning was old enough to remember his grandfather recounting his part in the slaughter of the American Civil War, during the 1860s.
In his final years in Montana, he was passionate about ending two modern wars, those in Iraq and Afghanistan.
His long good health he put down to a strict regime of two meals a day.
"How many people in this country say that they can't take the weight off?" he asked in an interview with the Associated Press news agency in October.
"I tell these people, I says get on a diet and stay on it. You'll find that you're in much better shape, feel good."
The former railway clerk died of natural causes in hospital in Great Falls.
He had been living in the same retirement home since 1980.
His wife of 35 years, Agnes Twokey, died childless in 1957.
"We got along very good," Breuning said. "She wouldn't like to spend money, I'll tell you that."
Of his grandfather, he remembered hearing, at the age of three, his recollections of killing Southerners during the Civil War.
"I thought that was a hell of a thing to say," he said.
Reflecting on mortality, he told the Associated Press: "We're going to die. Some people are scared of dying. Never be afraid to die. Because you're born to die."
Jeanne Louise Calment (French pronunciation: [ʒan lwiz kalmɑ̃]; 21 February 1875 – 4 August 1997) had the longest confirmed human life span in history, living to the age of 122 years, 164 days (44724 days total). She lived in Arles, France, for her entire life, and outlived both her daughter and grandson. She became especially well known from the age of 113, when the centenary of Vincent van Gogh's visit brought reporters to Arles. She entered the Guinness Book of Records in 1988, and on 17 October 1995 she became the oldest person ever, having surpassed the (now dubious) case of Shigechiyo Izumi of Japan. She became the last living documented person born in the 1870s when the Japanese supercentenarian Tane Ikai (born 1879) died on 12 July 1995. Her life span has been thoroughly documented by scientific study, with more records having been produced to verify her age than for any other case. She is the only person ever to be confirmed to have reached at least 120 years of age.