CHARLOTTE, North Carolina - Hester McCardell Ford, age 115 to 116 and believed to be the oldest living person in the United States and among the oldest human beings on the planet, died at her home in Charlotte on Saturday April 17, according to her family.
She outlived her husband John Ford, who died at age 57 in 1963.
She left behind 68 grandchildren, 125 great-grandchildren, and at least 120 great-great-grandchildren.
"She was a pillar and stalwart to our family and provided much-needed love, support, and understanding to us all," said her great-granddaughter, Tanisha Patterson-Powe, in a statement emailed to the media.
Ford was born on a farm in about 1906 in Lancaster County, S.C., where she plowed fields and picked cotton.
She married John Ford at age 14 and gave birth to her first child at age 15.
In recent years, Ford's birthday was celebrated by crowds of area residents.
In 2019, her birthday was celebrated during an event hosted by Cooking Matters in Your Community, a nonprofit that educates families about healthy eating.
That same year she received a proclamation from Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles recognizing Aug. 15 as Hester McCardell Ford Day.
Of note, the current Covid pandemic was the second Ford had lived through. She also survived the influenza pandemic of 1918.
Depending on whose information was the most accurate, she was either the sixth-oldest or the third-oldest person in the world.
Ford became the oldest living American in November 2020 when Alelia Murphy died in New York at 114 years old.
Granddaughter Mary Hill discussed a typical day in the life of Hester Ford as a 115- year-old woman.
"After we get ourselves together personally and get up and sing, we come into the kitchen and she has breakfast.
"Granny loves grits, and she loves pancakes. But sometimes she has waffles, pancakes or grits or oatmeal, and then she has sausage or bacon, with either a scrambled or boiled egg and a piece of toast. And then half a banana. She's been eating bananas all my life, and I'm 62," Hill said, as quoted by the Charlotte Observer.