PUBLISHED: 18:24 EST, 26 July 2012 | UPDATED: 18:31 EST, 26 July 2012
America’s oldest man died on Wednesday at 111.
Great-great-great-grandfather Shelby Harris passed away comfortably in his sleep at the Rock Island, Illinois, nursing home where he lived for the past six years.
Outliving two wives and his three daughters, the old romantic had cited love as the secret to his long life.
Long life: America’s oldest man, Shelby Harris, pictured, of Rock Island, Illinois, died in his sleep on Wednesday
‘One of the greatest things in the world is to love people and believe in people,’ he told WQAD in a March Interview.
‘I just try to live from day to day, I try to live the right kind of life. I try to live the truth. I love everybody and I want everybody to love me.’
Mr Harris hands the baton for the oldest man in the United States to James McCoubrey, from San Francisco, California, who is due to turn 111 in September.
There is a number of American women older than Mr McCoubrey, with the eldest, Besse Cooper, due to turn 116 in August.
Mr Harris was born in 1901 in the Southern Indiana town of Ayrshire. He first worked as a coal miner before moving to the Quad Cities in 1942.
Love: Mr Harris, pictured right at his nursing home in Rock Island in March, cited love as the reason for his long life
He signed up to fight in World War II but due to a broken ankle didn’t make it out of training and later took a job with the former Union Malleable in East Moline, Illinois.
An avid baseball fan, Mr Harris threw out the first pitch at a Quad-Cities River Bandits game in Davenport in April, a month after celebrating his 111th birthday with a big bash at Rock Island Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.
But administrator Dawn May said his health had deteriorated in the past few months.
‘It was more or less a winding down,’ she told the Quad City Times, adding that he had lived on his own, with some help, before moving into the nursing home at 105.
Promoted: James McCoubrey, pictured, is now the oldest man int he U.S. since Shelby Harris passed away
‘He lived a long life.’
Ms May said the old man’s death caused a lot of sadness at the nursing home, which came to love him as family and even prepared his favorite meal for his birthday in March.
‘Fried catfish, okra and sweet potato pie,’ she told the Quad City Times. ‘We made that for everybody.’
The wider Rock Island community also adored Mr Harris, affectionately calling him ‘Uncle Shelby’.
‘He was a very nice man, he really was,’ Ms May said. ‘He had a lot of good stories.’
WHAT WAS AMERICAN LIFE LIKE IN 1901?
Shelby Harris was born the year The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was released but before Orville and Wilbur Wright invented the airplane and the very first World Series was held.
Back in 1901, daily life was very different, with much of today’s standard supermarket options considered luxurious even for the rich.
Beef cost 10c a pound, toilets and bathtubs were outside and women made clothes for their families.
A posh restaurant charged a mere 20c for roast pork with apple sauce and a slice of green apple pie set you back 5c.
Almost every man wore a hat back then and women wore whale bone corsets and decorative head wear.
Football was popular among the Ivy League but baseball was already America’s most talked about sport and was fast becoming a national obsession.