Ford on her 115th birthday in August 2020
|Birth:||15 August 1905|
Lancaster, South Carolina, USA
|Death:||17 April 2021|
Charlotte, North Carolina, USA
|Age:||115 years, 245 days|
Hester Ford (née McCardell; 15 August 1905 – 17 April 2021) was an American supercentenarian who was the oldest living person in the United States from the death of 114 year-old Alelia Murphy on 23 November 2019 until her own death on 17 April 2021. Ford's family have claimed she was born in 1904, but she is validated by the Gerontology Research Group (GRG) as having been born in 1905.
Hester Ford was born on 15 August 1905 in Lancaster, Lancaster County, South Carolina, United States to Peter and Frances McCardell. She worked on a farm where she not only planted and picked cotton, but plowed the field and cut wood. She married John Ford on 12 March 1921, when she was 15, and they had 12 children (eight girls and four boys, including Hattie Thomas).
Ford moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, in 1953 where she worked for more than 20 years as a nanny. Her husband died in 1963 at the age of 57. She was a devout Christian and spent many years volunteering at her local church.
At the age of 109, she attributed her longevity to faith in God and thanking him for what he gave, saying "I thank him for everything". She could no longer attend church due to failing health in her centenarian years, but was still able to watch televised church services frequently.
Ford suffered from dementia, but she was still able to remember Bible verses. On her 112th birthday in 2017, she was able to recite the 23rd Psalm. The number of descendants she has is unclear; she has been reported to have up to 68 grandchildren, 120 great-grandchildren, and 126 great-great-grandchildren. However, sources vary as to the precise numbers. Ford died in Charlotte, North Carolina on 17 April 2021, at the age of 115 years, 245 days. Following her death, Thelma Sutcliffe of Nebraska became the oldest living validated person in the United States.
It is unknown as to the exact date when Ford became the oldest living person in North Carolina but it was most likely before she turned 110. Following the death of Alelia Murphy on 23 November 2019, Ford became the oldest living person in the United States. As of April 2021, Ford is the second-oldest person ever to live in North Carolina (behind Maggie Barnes). Ford also holds the record for being the oldest validated person ever born in South Carolina.
Following the death of Iris Westman on 3 January 2021, Ford became the last surviving American validated as being born in 1905. At the time of her death, Ford was the sixth-oldest living person in the world (behind Kane Tanaka, Lucile Randon, Francisca Celsa dos Santos, Jeanne Bot, and Antonia da Santa Cruz) whose age has been validated by the GRG.
On 23 March 2021, at the age of 115 years, 220 days, Ford tied the age of Edna Parker to enter the top ten oldest Americans of all-time. She is also one of the 50 longest-lived validated people in history.
- Gerontology Research Group
- Hester Ford celebrates 109th birthday The Charlotte Observer, 28 September 2014
- Charlotte woman celebrates 110th birthday WSOC-TV, 15 August 2015 (via The Wayback Machine)
- Charlotte woman celebrates 111th birthday with hundreds of descendants WBTV, 17 August 2016
- Oldest living woman in NC lives in Charlotte, celebrates 112th birthday WBTV, 15 August 2017
- Charlotte woman turns 112 and can recite Psalm 23 without skipping a beat WCNC, 16 August 2017 (via The Wayback Machine)
- On 112th Birthday, She Perfectly Recites Psalm 23. Knows She’s Ready to “Be With Jesus” Liftable, 5 September 2017 (via The Wayback Machine)
- Oldest NC woman celebrates 113th birthday, but new info reveals she may be even older WBTV, 13 August 2018
- New info reveals NC woman may be the oldest living person in the US The Charlotte Observer, 14 August 2018
- Charlotte woman celebrates 115th birthday Fox46 Charlotte, 16 August 2019
- Hester Ford, possibly the oldest living American, celebrates her 115th birthday Newsner, 16 August 2019
- After death of oldest American, a 114-year-old North Carolina woman takes her place The Charlotte Observer, 29 November 2019
- This NC woman is turning 115. Or 116? Either way, she’s the oldest person in the U.S. The Charlotte Observer, 14 August 2020
- Live long and prosper: Hester Ford celebrates her 116th birthday The Charlotte Post, 19 August 2020
- Hester Ford, oldest person in America, dead at 116 New York Post, 18 April 2021