After death of oldest American, a 114-year-old North Carolina woman takes her place

By Hayley Fowler The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.) (TNS)

RALEIGH, N.C. — Hester Ford is at least 114 years old. She was born in 1905, or maybe 1904 — no one’s quite sure, according to WBTV, the Charlotte Observer’s news partner.

She’s also the oldest living American as of Nov. 23.

Ford succeeds Alelia Murphy, who died last weekend as the oldest living American at 114 years and 140 days old, CNN reported.

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Murphy was born in North Carolina but moved to New York City during the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s.

“She was known for her energetic jitterbug routines back then,” her daughter, Rose Green, reportedly told the health care workers’ union 1199SEIU earlier this year. Green was a longtime member of the union.

“It is with great sadness that we share news of the passing of Mrs. Alelia Murphy,” the union said in a statement Wednesday. “Mrs. Murphy was the oldest living American, having celebrated her 114th birthday in July, surrounded by her family, friends, community leaders, and members of our AFRAM Caucus.”

Ford was born the youngest daughter of a farmer a little more than a month after Murphy’s birth and only a state away in Lancaster County, WBTV reported.

In 2018, the media outlet uncovered U.S. Census data from April 28, 1910, that listed Ford’s age as 5, meaning she could have actually been born in 1904.

At the time, she was the fourth-oldest person in the United States.

But the Gerontology Research Group, which tracks and verifies supercentenarians — people who are at least 110 years old — still recognizes Ford’s official birth date as Aug. 15, 1905.

Ford has lived in Charlotte since 1953, where she raised 12 children with her husband, according to WBTV.

Ford was a nanny in the Myers Park neighborhood for more than 20 years, WCNC reported. As of 2017, she had 48 grandchildren, 108 great-grandchildren and about 120 great-great-grandchildren.

When WBTV interviewed Ford on her 111th birthday in 2016, the media outlet reported she “struggles with dementia and hearing loss” but credited God for her longevity.

But at her birthday party the following year, WCNC reported Ford — who is a devout Christian — could still recite Psalm 23 “without skipping a beat.”

“I’m ready to go home,” Ford reportedly told the media outlet at the time.

“She wants to go home to be with Jesus,” her daughter said, according to WCNC. “But we told her he’s not ready because he has something else for her to do here.”

That was two years ago.

Now she’s the oldest living American — and seventh oldest in the world — at 114 years and 106 days old, according to GRG.

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