Robert Pershing Wadlow [2,72 m]
|Date of Birth||22 February 1918, Alton, Illinois, USA|
|Date of Death||15 July 1940, Manistee, Michigan, USA (infection of left ankle)|
Robert Pershing Wadlow was born on February 22, 1918 in Alton, Illinois. His height of 8' 11.1" qualifies him as the tallest person in history, as recorded in the Guinness Book of Records. Robert was the first born of Addie and Harold Wadlow. He had two sisters, Helen and Betty, and two brothers, Eugene and Harold Jr., all of whom were of average height and weight. His excessive height was due to an overactive pituitary gland, for which there was no treatment at the time. According to records kept in his hometown of Alton, Robert enjoyed collecting stamps, photography, and the Boy Scouts, becoming the world's tallest Boy Scout when he was 13 years old. He was also regarded as being very quiet, earning him the nickname "Gentle Giant." When he turned 20 Robert traveled for the International Shoe Company, who provided him with free shoes (which usually cost $100 a pair). His father had to remove the front passenger seat of the family car so Robert could sit in the back seat. Due to poor circulation, Robert had little sensation in his feet and did not notice when problems like blisters developed. In July of 1940 a blister on his ankle led to an infection that, despite treatment, ended his life on the morning of July 15th. Robert was buried in his hometown of Alton. All city businesses closed for the funeral, which was attended by tens of thousands of people. The 1,000-pound casket required 12 pallbearers. In 1985 a life-sized bronze statue of Robert was erected on the campus of the Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine.