GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) -- Walter Breuning's earliest memories stretched back 111 years, before home entertainment came with a twist of the radio dial. They were of his grandfather's tales of killing Southerners in the Civil War.
Breuning was 3 and horrified: "I thought that was a hell of a thing to say."
But the stories stuck, becoming the first building blocks into what would develop into a deceptively simple philosophy that Breuning, the world's oldest man at 114 before he died Thursday, credited to his longevity.
Here's the world's oldest man's secret to a long life:
- Embrace change, even when the change slaps you in the face. ("Every change is good.")
- Eat two meals a day ("That's all you need.")
- Work as long as you can ("That money's going to come in handy.")
- Help others ("The more you do for others, the better shape you're in.")
Then there's the hardest part. It's a lesson Breuning said he learned from his grandfather: Accept death.
"We're going to die. Some people are scared of dying. Never be afraid to die. Because you're born to die," he said.
Breuning died of natural causes in a Great Falls hospital where he had been a patient for much of April with an undisclosed illness, said Stacia Kirby, spokeswoman for the Rainbow Senior Living retirement home where Breuning lived.
He was the oldest man in the world and the second-oldest person, according to the Los Angeles-based Gerontology Research Group. Besse Cooper of Monroe, Ga. - born 26 days earlier - is the world's oldest person.