VLADIVOSTOK, Russia — Local Church leaders presented Afanasy Ivanovich Tarasov with a blanket made by Relief Society sisters and a copy of the Book of Mormon to celebrate his 116th birthday on Jan. 17th.
According to Russian census records, Mr. Tarasov of Vladivostok is the oldest living man in the world. Even though he is not a member, Church leaders were invited to participate in the celebration by government officials because of the Church's service in the community.
Mr. Tarasov was born during the rule of the Tsars in 1887, endured two World Wars and outlasted communism. He lived a simple country life and read many newspapers through which he became acquainted with the writings of many pre-revolutionary poets and authors. At 54, he was too old to fight during World War II. He said he had erased any memory of the Soviet Union. His happiest days were during the Tsar, he said.
He attributes his longevity to a happy marriage, saying he was married only once and no rude comments were made at home, and to good health practices of no drinking or smoking.
"I know a lot about Jesus Christ," he said. "He was the greatest revolutionary."