Alexander Baptiste Passes at 100
On September 15, 1919, St. Louis citizens woke up to read about the death of one of their oldest citizens, Alexander Baptiste. Just a few months before his 101st or 102nd birthday depending on which source you believed, Alexander Baptiste passed away from intestinal disease.
For years, Alexander was known as one of the fittest St. Louisans. An early advocate of physical culture (physical fitness in the 1800s), Alexander Batiste lifted weights, performed gymnastics and walked long distances. Even as he entered his 100th year, Alexander Baptiste walked from his home in the 3900 block of Page Avenue to his office at 612 North Third Street.
Baptiste worked out every morning for 30 minutes or so, ate breakfast and walked the 3 and half miles to the Baptiste Tent and Awning Company. After work, Baptiste would walk back home. He passed his love of fitness onto his son George Baptiste. George Baptise was not only a professional wrestler but also a gifted swimmer, who saved several people from drowning.
The summer before he passed away, Alexander Baptiste returned from the Clayton Office and decided to pick up a 250 pound piece of iron with one hand despite being 99 years old. His office workers were in awe of his physical abilities.
Baptiste would occasionally perform such feats of strength to show how you could maintain your health and fitness despite your age.
The Baptiste family enjoyed long lives. Alexander Baptiste’s father Stephen lived to be around 115 years old. Alexander Baptiste intended to surpass his father’s longevity but felt worn down in November 1918. He left St. Louis on November 11, 1918 for California, where he stayed until June 1919.
Alexander Baptiste returned to St. Louis and started to take up his old routine. However, he felt genuinely ill for the first time in early September 1919. A few weeks later, he died on September 14, 1919. His death certificate said he was born on November 9, 1818. If this date is correct, he was less than 2 months shy of his 101 birthday when he died.
Alexander’s son George intended to match his grandfather and father for longevity. He too maintained a daily exercise regimen. Looking at his athletic accomplishments, he had as good chance as anyone to live to a 100 years old. But would he achieve his 100th year?
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Sources: St. Louis Star-Times, September 15, 1919 edition, p. 3 and St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 16, 1919 edition, p. 24. Missouri Death Certificate DatabasePin It