Hester McCardell Ford also experienced two pandemics in her lifetime, one in 1918 and the ongoing one, a century apart.
Hester McCardell Ford, the longest living American, has passed away a few months short of her 116th birthday. Ford has lived through a lot in her time including two world wars, and 12 Presidents, and experienced two global pandemics a century apart. Ford died at her family home at the age of 115 years and 245 days old, according to the Gerontology Research Group (GRG). She hailed from Charlotte, North Carolina. She has 12 children, 48 grandchildren as well as 108 great-great grandkids and 120 great-great-great grandkids. "She was the seed that sprouted leaves and branches which is now our family," read a statement from Ford's family, reported The Daily Mail. The oldest American is Sarah Knauss who was born on September 24, 1880, and died in December 1999, at 119 years, 97 days.
During her 115-year-old life, only once before her death was she taken to the hospital, when she suffered a fall in her bathtub, leaving her with bruised ribs. Ford was born on a farm in Lancaster County and had worked as a cotton picker. She was married at the age of 14 and worked a many for two families in Myers Park for 20 years. She lived through the 1918 influenza pandemic and experienced the ongoing coronavirus pandemic as well. Her family had organized a small drive-by celebration due to Coronavirus restrictions in 2020.
She was also one of the first Macedonia Baptist Church Ford members. "In times that were troublesome, when there were so many injustices taking place, it was her faith that kept her moving," said great-granddaughter Tanisha Patterson-Powe. "God saw fit to make her the matriarch of our family and blessed us to be her caretakers and recipients of her legacy. Her light shined beyond her local area and she lived beyond a century with memories containing the real-life experience of over 100 years. She not only represented the advancement of our family but of the Black African American race and culture in our country. She was a reminder of how far we have come as people on this earth," read the statement.
Ford enjoyed short walks and listening to gospel music. She had a set routine for decades. Ford would have a breakfast of half a banana, before attending the same church every week. She would often look through her family album while sitting in her recliner. "She has been celebrated all over the world by local governments, community leaders, social media, foreign dignities, and Presidents as a cherished jewel of society for holding the honor of being the oldest living person in America. She has been celebrated all over the world by local governments, community leaders, social media, foreign dignities, and Presidents as a cherished jewel of society for holding the honor of being the oldest living person in America," added the statement.
Robert D. Young, director of the GRG’s supercentenarian research and database division, spoke to Observer Sunday about Ford, “The reality is, Hester Ford’s age, even at 115, still made her the last known American born before 1906. When you consider that she was a mother of a WWII-era veteran... it really puts into perspective: This was one of our last living links to an era that is nearly bygone.”
"Although she has passed, her legacy and memory will continue to live on through her family and everyone she has touched to make the world a better place for generations to come...As we pause from our day-to-day activities let us reflect on how far we have come and where we are aspiring to go in the name and legacy of Mother Hester McCardell Ford," the family statement concluded.