In 1905 when Hester Ford was born, the airplane could just go a few hundred yards and it was only possible for white men to be president. Those are just a few countless changes the Charlotte woman has lived through, and perhaps reflected on Saturday as she celebrated her 111th birthday.
Ford has 12 children, four surviving. She also has 68 grandchildren, followed by 120 great-grandchildren and 125 great-great-granchildren. Coming to a running total of 325 direct descendants.
“I am proud of every one of them,” she said. “And if the others were still living, well I am still proud of them too.”
Ford was born in Lancaster County, S.C, just south of Charlotte. “I lived on the farm and farmed all the time,” she said.
She had to plow, pick cotton, and more stuff than she had time to say during a visit this past week from an Observer reporter. “I enjoyed none of it but had to do it,” she said.
She moved to Charlotte in 1959 at the age of 54. She still lives in the same house on a street near the intersection of Interstates 77 and 85.
“She moved into the neighborhood before it was even developed,” her granddaughter Mary Hill said.
Over the 111 years, Ford says no birthday in particular is her favorite, saying she enjoyed them all.
She has a picture of President Barack Obama in her house, and her daughter Hattie Thomas said Ford was happy to live long enough to see a black man be president. Thomas said Ford is also ready for a woman to be the next president.
Her advice to readers: “Hard work won’t kill you.” Thomas said she would always tell them this growing up.
Today Ford lives in her Charlotte home and her family, along with a trained caregiver, said they have a challenge giving Ford help.
“She is independent and she will say ‘I can do it, I can do it,’ ” Thomas said.
Tyler Fleming: 704-358-5355, @tyler_fleming96