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Oldest man marks 114th birthday

An American believed to be the world's oldest man has celebrated his 114th birthday at a retirement home in Great Falls, Montana.

Walter Breuning was born on September 21 1896 in Melrose, Minnesota, and moved to Montana in 1918, where he worked as a clerk for the Great Northern Railway for 50 years.

His wife, Agnes, a railroad telegraph operator from Butte, died in 1957. The couple had no children.

Breuning inherited the distinction of being the world's oldest man in July 2009 when Briton Henry Allingham died at age 113. Allingham had joked that the secret to long life was "Cigarettes, whisky and wild, wild women - and a good sense of humour," according to Guinness World Records.

The Guinness organisation and the Gerontology Research Group each have verified Breuning as the world's oldest man and the fourth-oldest person. Three women were born earlier in the same year as Breuning.

Robert Young, senior consultant for gerontology for Guinness World Records, presented Breuning with a copy of the book's 2011 edition that lists him as the record holder.

"Walter wasn't in last year's edition," Young joked. "He was too young."

The Great Falls Tribune reported that Breuning gave a speech before about 100 people at an invitation-only birthday party at the Rainbow Retirement Community, with a guest list that included Montana Government Brian Schweitzer and representatives from Guinness World Records.

Breuning was helped up to a lectern from his motorised cart, appearing somewhat frail but speaking with a strong voice.

He recalled "the dark ages," when his family moved to South Dakota in 1901 and lived for 11 years without electricity, water or plumbing.

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