“It’s a sad day but it’s also a great day in heaven,” Hestor Ford’s great-granddaughter Tanisha Patterson-Powe said. Ford, who was the oldest living American, died at the age of 116 surrounded by her loved ones at home, which is a rare and beautiful grace.
According to her family members, Ford lived in the same home in Charlotte for more than 58 years. Born on August 15, 1904, in Lancaster, South Carolina, Ford lived through countless historic events. If you are a student of life’s movements, and consider that the woman known as “Mother Hester” has lived through everything from the 1918 Flu pandemic to the 1947 debut of Jackie Robinson to the 2008 presidential win of Barack Obama—you’ll realize the breadth of knowledge, experience, and wisdom that has been shared in this life.
“She was a pillar and stalwart to our family and provided much needed love, support and understanding to us all,” a statement from her family posted to social media Saturday evening reads, in part. “She was the seed that sprouted leaves and branches which is now our family. God saw fit to make her the matriarch of your family and blessed us to be her caretakers and recipients of her legacy.”
When Ford was born, Theodore Roosevelt was elected to his second term as President of the United States. Her family says Ford grew up plowing and picking cotton, and cutting wood. She would eventually marry John Ford at 14. The following year she gave birth to the first of the couple’s 12 children at age 15. The couple eventually sold the farm and moved to Charlotte, building a house near the intersection of Interstates 77 and 85 around 1960. “Her light shined beyond her local area and she lived beyond a century with memories containing real life experience of over 100 years,” the statement continues. “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.”
Last year, the community of Mecklenburg County celebrated her impact and proclaimed Sept. 1 as “Mother Hester McCardell Ford Day”.
Patterson-Powe said her great-grandmother was proud of all she accomplished and inspired countless people to have the type of faith she had and believe that anything is possible. Funeral arrangements have not yet been made and Ford’s family asked the public to reflect on how far the world has come since she was born, saying the family will keep this in mind as they aspire to keep advancing her name and legacy.
Ford had 12 children, 68 grandchildren, 108 great-grandchildren, and approximately 120 great-great-grandchildren.
Sleep well, dear Mother Hester.