María Capovilla (b. September 4, 1889 – d. August 27, 2006) was an Ecuadorian supercentenarian. At the time of her death, she was the oldest person ever from South America, the oldest person ever from the Southern Hemisphere and the oldest verified living person in the world. She was 116. She was the 4th oldest person ever.
Born as María Esther Heredia Lecaro in Guayaquil, she was the daughter of a colonel, and lived a life among the upper-class elite, attending social functions and art classes. She never smoked or drank hard liquor. In 1917, she married a military officer, Antonio Capovilla, who died in 1949. Antonio, an ethnic Italian, was born in Pola, Austria-Hungary (now Pula, Croatia), in 1864. He moved to Chile in 1894 and then to Ecuador in 1910. After his first wife died, he married María. They had five children, three of whom were living at María's death: Hilda (81), Irma (80) and son Anibal (78). She also had twelve grandchildren, twenty great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren. At age 100, Maria nearly died and was given last rites, but had been free of health problems since then. In December 2005, at the age of 116, Maria was in good health for someone of her age and watched TV, read the paper and walked without the aid of a stick (though she was helped by an aide). Unfortunately, Maria was not able to leave her home in the two years before her death and she shared her home with her eldest daughter Hilda, and her son-in-law. In a media interview Maria stated her dislike of the fact that women nowadays are permitted to court men, rather than the reverse.
By March 2006, however, Capovilla's health had declined, and she was not able to read the newspaper any more. Maria had nearly stopped talking and no longer walked except when helped by two people. Still, Capovilla was able to sit in her chair and fan herself, and had been doing fine until she succumbed to a bout of pneumonia in the last week of August 2006, just 18 days before she would have celebrated her 117th birthday.