Gerontology Wiki
Hester Ford
Hester Ford
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
Country: United StatesUSA

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.


Early Life

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).

Later Life

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.



United States' Oldest Living Person Titleholders (VE)

Clarida RoyMary BittlebrunSophia DeMuthFannie ThomasNellie Spencer • Emma Wilson • Mathew Beard • Augusta Holtz • Mary McKinney • Florence Knapp • Orpha NusbaumElzona MaxeyAlphaeus Philemon ColeBirdie May VogtEttie Mae GreeneMargaret SkeeteWilhelmina Kott • Sarah Knauss • Myrtle Dorsey • Maud Farris-LuseGrace Clawson • Adelina Domingues • Mae Harrington • Mary Christian • Elena Slough • Charlotte Benkner • Emma Verona Johnston • Elizabeth Bolden • Emma TillmanCorinne Dixon Taylor • Edna Parker • Gertrude Baines • Mary Josephine Ray • Neva Morris • Eunice Sanborn • Besse Cooper • Dina Manfredini • Gertrude Weaver • Jeralean Talley • Susannah Mushatt Jones • Goldie Michelson • Adele DunlapDelphine GibsonLessie BrownAlelia MurphyHester FordThelma SutcliffeBessie Hendricks