CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Hester Ford has seen a lot in her lifetime, more than anyone in the United States.
The oldest living person in the country resides right here in Charlotte.
Ford celebrated her 116th birthday on Saturday.
She was wheeled out to the door of her home where she was celebrated by friends, family and her community.
This year, with the COVID-19 pandemic, family and friends put on a drive-by party.
Currently, Ford is 21st on the all-time list of living longevity. Sarah Knauss, from Hollywood, Pennsylvania, who lived until she was 119 years and 97 days off, is at the top of the list.
Ford is a little more than three years away from being the longest-living person in the United States.
The next oldest living person in the United States is Iris Westman, who resides in North Dakota at 114 yeas and 353 days.
Ford was born in Lancaster, South Carolina and moved to Charlotte in the 1950s.
Her family says she has a big heart, she cares about everybody.
The family also says that each year they get with her, they take away more knowledge and wisdom from the lady they call “grammy.”
“We are honored and we just thank God for the opportunity to celebrate her,” said Mary Hill, one of Hester Ford’s 68 grandchildren. “She just continues to be a blessing to us. And she tells us all the time. You are here to be a blessing to someone else.”
According to her family, U.S. Census Bureau documents indicate she was born in 1905, but then another set of Census Bureau documents say she was born in 1904. Either way — whether Ford is turning 115 or 116 — as of July 30 she was the oldest person on record living in the United States, based on data compiled by the Gerontology Research Group.
Ford became the oldest living American last November when North Carolina native Alelia Murphy died in New York at 114 years and 140 days old.
The oldest living human in the world is Kane Tanaka of Japan. He will turn 118 on Jan. 2.
Ford has 125 great-grandchildren and at least 120 great-great-grandchildren.