CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Hester Ford, the oldest living American, is not ashamed to cite her faith when speaking to others about her long life. She believes that she is still here because it is not her time yet.
“I’m living for the Lord, hun,” Ford told Yahoo News in an interview.
While there is discrepancy about her age — the Gerontology Research Group (GRG) has her listed as being born in 1905, but her family says she was born in 1904, she is nonetheless the oldest American alive, being 115 or 116 years in age.
According to reports, Ford was born in South Carolina, married as a teenager, took care of the couple’s farm and raised 12 children. She has more than 50 grandchildren, 125 great grandchildren, and about the same number of great-great grandchildren.
Her husband, John, died at the age of 57 in 1963. She lived alone and without assistance until she was 107 or 108, at which time a fall in the bathtub prompted three of her daughters, who are in their 80’s, to move in with her.
Though she has dementia, Ford is still sharp when it comes to the Scriptures and makes it her practice to recite Psalm 23, John 14 and the Lord’s Prayer on a daily basis. She also prays every day at noon.
When she celebrated her birthday in August, she was presented with a cake decorated like the Bible and with Psalm 23 written on it. It was decorated with 16 candles. She also received a drive-by parade from community members, family and friends who wanted to wish her a happy birthday.
Last year, Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles recognized Aug. 15 as Hester McCardell Ford Day, and she was presented with a proclamation by City Council members LaWana Mayfield and Dimple Ajmera at the Beatties Ford Library during a “Cooking Matters in Your Community” event.
As previously reported, in 2016, a video of Ford reciting Psalm 23 by heart went viral. WBTV reporter Kristen Hampton shared the footage to social media, and many were blessed by the recitation. As of press time, the video is at 12 million views, 400K likes and 80K comments.
When asked this summer what is the best part of living so long, she said she wasn’t sure, but added, “I want to go home, though, but the Lord ain’t ready for me.”
In the 19th century hymn “Our Times Are in Thy Hands,” lyricist William Freeman Lloyd wrote, “Our times are in Thy hand/O God, we wish them there/Our lives, our souls, our all, we leave/ Entirely to Thy care … Our times are in Thy hand/We’ll always trust to Thee/Till we possess the promised crown/And all Thy glory see.”