(CNN) -- Before women gained the right to vote in 1920, Besse Cooper joined the suffrage movement.
Then 24, the Georgia school teacher registered women to vote and spoke to others about the importance of having a voice in politics.
Cooper voted in every election after the 19th Amendment was passed, save for two.
She died Tuesday, at age 116, only one of eight people recognized by the Guinness World Records to have lived that long.
Her son Sidney said his mother had her hair done Tuesday morning by a stylist at the assisted-living center where she had lived for the past 11 years but began to have trouble breathing.
She died later in her room, peacefully, he said.
When asked for her secret to a long life, Cooper told the Guinness website earlier this year: "I mind my own business. And I don't eat junk food."
Besse Cooper was born in Sullivan County, Tennessee, on August 26, 1896. She began to go to school at age 5 -- yes, she walked from a log cabin -- to make sure one of her brothers attended. She grew to love going to class and eventually went to East Tennessee Normal School (now East Tennessee State University) in Johnson City to study education.more