Her son Sidney told CNN that her mother “died peacefully” at a living center on Tuesday, December 4. It was known that she suffered difficulty in breathing before her death.
Besse was born in Sullivan County, Tennessee, on August 26, 1896. She went to East Tennessee Normal School (now East Tennessee State University) in Johnson City to study education and then became a school teacher in Georgia, earning at least $70 a month.
According to CNN, in 1920 Besse fought for women’s right to vote and spoke to them about “the importance of having a voice in politics.”
In 1924, Besse married Luther Cooper, who died in 1963. She never remarried, the CNN report said.
They had 4 children, 11 grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren and 2 great-great grandchildren.