WXIA-TV

Oldest Living American, With 260 Descendants, Celebrates Her 116th Birthday

When you're a kid, there's no better day than your birthday. For once, it's all about you. You get to dine out on your favorite foods, a cake made just for you, and open a bunch of gifts. It makes you feel darned lucky.

That excitement tends to drop off as you get older, but after a certain point, you have to think that it gets exciting to celebrate birthdays again, right? Like, everyone wants to keep having them, don't they?

Hester Ford has had more birthdays than just about anybody else in the world, and she's just had another one.

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On August 15, the Charlotte resident turned an astounding 116. Born in 1904 — a fact that had to be confirmed by the Census Bureau — Hester is the oldest living American and the seventh-oldest person in the world, WXIA-TV reported.

Of course, this year's birthday was a bit different.

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Given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, large gatherings aren't encouraged. And even if family alone were coming, Hester would be overwhelmed. She's the mother of 12, grandmother of 48, great-grandmother of 108, and great-great-grandmother of 120, giving her 260 descendants.

So, instead of a traditional gathering, Hester's family arranged for a drive-thru celebration for her 116th.

Hester's family said that the COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for Hester.

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She's a mainstay of the community, having lived in the same house in Charlotte for 58 years, and she's a regular at her church, which is just five minutes away from where she lives.

"She usually calls once a month the first Sunday of the month, but with the virus, she hasn't been able to go," Hester's granddaughter Mary Hill told WXIA-TV. "So they always send CDs and the deacons come and give her communion."

Of course, this isn't even Hester's first pandemic.

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She would have been a teenager in 1918, when a flu pandemic swept the globe, and her family says that she can remember it.

"She said this kind of reminds her of that time back then," Hill said. "She just said she remembers that a lot of people were sick." Hill added that Hester also recalled that her mother helped out sick neighbors at the time.

As for Hester's secret to long life, she's not sure why she's still around.

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"I don't know," she simply said when the Charlotte Observer asked. "I just live right, all I know."

Considering that she has so greatly outlived her husband John, who passed away in 1963, she has certainly done something right.

Her family is just happy she's still around. "We just thank God for just keeping her here for us, because it gives us hope," Hill told the Charlotte Observer. "We're just a blessed family."

h/t: WXIA-TV, Charlotte Observer

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