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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Hester Ford, a Charlotte woman who had seen a lot in her lifetime, died Saturday, according to her family.

“Her light shined beyond her local area and she lived beyond a century with memories containing real life experience of over 100 years,” her family posted on Facebook.

According to the Gerontology Research Group, Ford was the oldest living American, at 116 years old.

Ford was born in Lancaster County, South Carolina in 1905, but had lived in Charlotte since the 1950s.

“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. She has been celebrated all over the world by local governments, community leaders, social media, foreign dignities and Presidents as a cherished jewel of society for holding the honor of being the oldest living person in America,” her family wrote in a Facebook post.

Ford had grown up picking cotton, plowing fields and canning vegetables before moving to Charlotte. She got married to her husband in South Carolina in 1921, and then raised a family in the city.

She had at least 12 children, 48 grandchildren and more than 200 great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.

“Although she has passed, her legacy and memory will continue to live on through her family and everyone she has touched to make the world a better place for generations to come. In closing, we would sincerely like to thank everyone for their support, extended gratitude as we keep her legacy alive. As we pause from our day-to-day activities let us reflect on how far we have come and where we are aspiring to go in the name and legacy of Mother Hester McCardell Ford,” a Facebook post from her family read.

Mecklenburg County Commissioners made Sept. 1 of 2020, ‘Mother Hester McCardell Ford’ day, honoring her love of the community and her very large family.

Funeral arrangements have not been announced yet.

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