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Charlotte Centenarian And Oldest American Alive Celebrates Another Birthday

Courtesy Angela Christoforos
Hester Ford surrounded by family.

There isn't consensus on Hester Ford's age. Some say she's 115, her granddaughter says she's 116. Either way, the Gerontology Research Group calls her the oldest person in the United States, and she'll mark another birthday Saturday with a drive-by celebration put on by her family and friends.

Credit Courtesy Angela Christoforos
Hester Ford will turn either 115 or 116 - no one is positive.

Ford's granddaughter Mary Hill says her grandmother's long life could be attributed to her devotion to the Christian teachings she passed on to her family.

"Treating people the way you want to be treated," Hill says, "and always going the extra mile."

Hill says her grandmother has been a missionary and a longtime member of her church in Charlotte. She's also held on to a love of home cooking through the years, and has a distaste for microwaved food. She still prefers to hang her clothes out to dry rather than use an electric dryer.

For her birthday this year, Ford will get to see some of her 12 children, 48 grandchildren, 108 grandchildren, and at least 120 great-great grandchildren -- but because of the coronavirus, the celebration will be held drive-by style in front of Ford's home.

"That's why (Saturday) is very special and important for us," her granddaughter says, "because then she'll see all the beautiful people who want to come see her, but can't come and see her because they don't want to get her sick."

Hill also asked that instead of sending flowers or gifts, people make a donation to the Kidney Foundation in Ford's name. That's because, Hill says, "she loves to give back."

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