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Is This Broward Woman The Oldest Person In America? Definitely Maybe.

Lauderhill resident Dorrisile Dervis with her grandaughter, Marie.
Johanne Rahaman
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Regina McNish knows her grandma – Lauderhill resident Dorrisile Dervis – by another name.

“Gran Dor,” said McNish. “‘Gran’ is ‘grandma’ in Creole. And ‘Dor’ is the first three letters of her name: Dorrisile.”

And Gran Dor is grand indeed. Born on Christmas Day in 1901, Gran Dor is 115 years old. That makes her the oldest living person in the United States.


The problem is … her family never had Gran Dor’s birth certificate. She was born poor in rural northwest Haiti at the turn of the 20th century. McNish says Gran Dor was probably never registered.

“In Haiti,” said McNish, “If you're born and … you don't go and produce a birth certificate, that child will never have a birth certificate.”

In 2014, the Haitian government issued Gran Dor a birth certificate. But that’s not enough to verify her age claim.

“Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence,” said Robert Young of Gerontology Research Group, a team that verifies and tracks supercentenarians. “It would be exciting if we found someone born in 1901. For real. But, we need evidence.”

Young says verification would require a document created much closer to 1901.

For now, Gran Dor’s family is hoping to find any early life document — a child’s birth certificate, a baptismal record, even a childhood photo — to prove Gran Dor is indeed a modern-day Methuselah.

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Peter Haden is an award-winning investigative reporter and photographer currently working with The Center for Investigative Reporting. His stories are featured in media outlets around the world including NPR, CNN en Español, ECTV Ukraine, USA Today, Qatar Gulf Times, and the Malaysia Star.