America’s oldest living person is a Black woman who just celebrated her 116th birthday in Charlotte, North Carolina, last week, according to WBTV in North Carolina.
Hester Ford, who turned 116 on Aug. 13, had a celebration over the weekend where she was wheeled out to the door of her home so she could be celebrated by friends, family, and her community. Due to the coronavirus, family, and friends put on a drive-by party on Saturday.
As of today, Ford is No. 21 on the all-time list of living longevity. Sarah Knauss, from Hollywood, Pennsylvania, who lived until she was 119 years and 97 days, is at the top of the list.
“We are honored and we just thank God for the opportunity to celebrate her,” said Mary Hill, one of Hester Ford’s 68 grandchildren. “She just continues to be a blessing to us. And she tells us all the time. You are here to be a blessing to someone else.”
Another remarkable feat that Ford has accomplished is living through different pandemics. She survived living through the 1918 Flu Pandemic and the current 2020 COVID-19) pandemic.
According to Ford’s family, U.S. Census Bureau documents have indicated that she was born in 1905, but another set of Census Bureau documents states that she was born in 1904. Whichever year she was actually born still places her as the oldest person on record living in the United States, based on data compiled by the Gerontology Research Group.
BET reported that Charlotte’s mayor, Vi Lyles, officially declared Aug.15 ‘Mother Hester Ford Day,’ in honor of her 116th birthday.
“We just thank God for just keeping her here for us, because it gives us hope,” Hil, Ford’s granddaughter, told CBS Charlotte. “We would never want her to be here if she was sick. … We want her to have a great quality of life in her elder years. We don’t want her to be sick or anything, and trying to hold on.”