Hester Ford, record-holder for oldest American, has died

In 2019, the Charlotte resident became the oldest-living person in the United States.

Hester McCardell Ford, a Charlotte woman who held the title of America’s oldest-living person, died Saturday of natural causes, her great-granddaughter, Tanisha Patterson-Powe, confirmed to Qcity Metro.

“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved Mother Hester McCardell Ford today,” Patterson-Powe said in a statement on behalf of the family. “She was a pillar and stalwart to our family and provided much needed love, support and understanding to us all.” 

Ford made the record books as a supercentenarian — a person validated to be 110 years or older. In recent years, Ford’s actual age has been the subject of conversation. 

Hester-McCardell-Ford
Family, friends and community members recognized Hester McCardell Ford (left) on her birthday in 2019. She was presented with a proclamation from Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles recognizing Aug. 15 as Hester McCardell Ford Day. Photo: QCity Metro

Last summer, family and community members gathered for a drive-by celebration for Ford’s 116th birthday. [U.S. Census Bureau documents note that Ford was born in 1905, according to her family.] However, the Gerontology Research Group, who certified Ford as the oldest living person in the United States, listed her at 115 years and 245 days at the time of this publication.

Whether 115 or 116, Ford was all smiles in August as she waved to passersby from the front porch of her home in the Dalebrook community, where she’d lived for more than 60 years. Due to the coronavirus outbreak, drivers honked horns and left gifts in the driveway along with well wishes.

Ford was born in Lancaster County, South Carolina, and went on to birth 12 children with her late husband, John. The matriarch had more than 60 grandchildren, 125 great-grandchildren and at least 120 great-great-grandchildren. 

“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,” the family said.

Funeral arrangements will be announced at a later date.

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