Sept. 1 declared as Hester Ford Day in Mecklenburg Co. in honor of oldest living American

Updated: Sep. 1, 2020 at 11:24 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - County commissioners have officially declared September 1 as Hester Ford day in Mecklenburg County.

“The Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners honors the life and legacy of Ms. Hester Ford and hereby proclaim Tuesday, September 1, 2020 as ’Mother Hester McCardell Ford Day,’” the official proclamation read.

Charlotte’s own Hester Ford is 116 years old and has seen a lot in her lifetime, more than anyone in the United States as she is the oldest living person in the country.

Ford was born in Lancaster, South Carolina and moved to Charlotte in the 1950s. She grew up working on a farm where she not only planted and picked cotton, but plowed the field and cut wood.

She was married to John Ford, a steel worker, at the age of 15 and they later moved to Charlotte in 1953. She was married to John for 45 years when he died in 1963.

Ford worked for more than 20 years as a nanny for two families in Myers Park and has been living in the same house in the Dalebrook neighborhood of Charlotte for more than 59 years.

She is a longtime member of Macedonia Baptist Church where prior to the coronavirus pandemic, she attended each first Sunday of every month for communion.

Ford has lived through two global pandemics, the 1918 influenza pandemic and currently the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the matriarch of a large family, Ford has 12 children, 48 grandchildren, 108 great-grandchildren and approximately 120 great-great-grandchildren.

Ford celebrated her 116th birthday on Aug. 15, 2020. 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.

“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, Ford is 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.

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