Hester Ford, the oldest living American, has died at age 116.
NBC affiliate WCNC reported that Ford, who was the mother of 12 children, and had 48 grandchildren, 108 great-grandchildren and approximately 120 great-great grandchildren, passed away at home surrounded by her loved ones.
"It's a sad day but it's also a great day in heaven," her great-granddaughter Tanisha Patterson-Powe said. "Although we’re saddened by it, we take great pride in the legacy that she does leave behind."
Ford was born on Aug. 15, 1904 in Lancaster, South Carolina and lived in Charlotte, North Carolina, residing in the same home for more than 58 years. She lived through many historical events. Even the pandemic was nothing new to her as she survived the 1918 flu pandemic.
"She was a pillar and stalwart to our family and provided much needed love, support and understanding to us all," a statement from her family posted to social media Saturday evening reads. "She was the seed that sprouted leaves and branches which is now our family. God saw fit to make her the matriarch of your family and blessed us to be her caretakers and recipients of her legacy."
When Ford was born, Theodore Roosevelt was elected to his second term as U.S. President. Ford worked on a farm where she planted and picked cotton and plowed the field and cut wood. When she moved to Charlotte in 1953, she worked as a nanny for a family for more than 20 years.
"Her light shined beyond her local area and she lived beyond a century with memories containing real life experience of over 100 years," the statement continues. "She not only represented the advancement of our family but of the Black African American race and culture in our country. She was a reminder of how far we have come as people on this earth."
Last year, Mecklenburg County proclaimed September 1 as "Mother Hester McCardell Ford Day."
Patterson-Powe said her great-grandmother was proud of all she accomplished and inspired countless people in the community.
"She wanted people to have the type of faith that she had; to be able to believe that anything is possible," Patterson-Powe said.
Funeral arrangements are forthcoming, said the family's statement. Ford's family also asked the public to reflect on how far the world has come since she was born, saying the family will keep this in mind as they aspire to keep advancing in her name and legacy.