Hester Ford, the oldest living American, passed away at 116 surrounded by those she loved, family members said.
“It’s a sad day, but it’s also a great day in heaven,” her great-grandaughter Tanisha Patterson-Powe told WCNC. “Although we’re saddened by it, we take great pride in the legacy that she does leave behind.”
Ford lived in Charlotte, North Carolina, for more than 58 years. She gave birth to 12 children, had 48 grandchildren, 108 great-grandchildren, and an estimated 120 great-great-grandchildren.
“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 Facebook 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,” the statement continued.
Born in Lancaster, South Carolina, on August 15, 1904, Ford lived through many historical events, including the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic.
Ford was born when President Theodore Roosevelt was elected to his second term. According to her family, she worked on a farm where she picked and planted cotton, cut wood, and plowed the field.
She moved to Charlotte in 1953, where she worked as a nanny for more than 20 years. Last year, she celebrated her 116th birthday with a parade.
When asked last year the secret to living as long as she has, she replied, “I just live right, all I know.”