City of Charlotte Turns Purple in Honor of the Late Hester Ford, Former Oldest American

Ford died at the age of 116. Purple was her favorite color.

The city of Charlotte, North Carolina, turned purple in honor of the life and legacy of longtime resident Hester Ford, WCNC reports.

Ford, who held the title of oldest living American, died at the age of 116. Purple was her favorite color.

Hester Ford Birthday
Courtesy of the Ford Family

Around sunset, the Wells Fargo Lights on the Duke Energy Building in Uptown lit up purple in Ford's memory. Other Uptown businesses reportedly followed suit.

Ford lived in the same home in Charlotte for more than 58 years. She had 12 children, 48 grandchildren, 108 great-grandchildren, and approximately 120 great-great-grandchildren.

According to Gerontology, she was one of the top ten validated oldest Americans of all time, tying in age with Edna Parker, and one of the 50 longest-lived validated people in history.

Ford's secret to longevity? "I just live right, all I know," she mused at her 116th birthday.

Ford was born on a farm in Lancaster County, South Carolina, where she grew up plowing and picking cotton. She married John Ford at age 14 and gave birth to the first of their 12 children (eight girls and four boys) at age 15. The family moved to Charlotte in 1953, where she worked for more than 20 years as a nanny. Her husband died in 1963, at the age of 57.

"Her light shined beyond her local area and she lived beyond a century with memories containing real life experience of over 100 years. 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," a family statement posted by great-granddaughter Tanisha Patterson-Powe on Facebook reads. "Although she has passed, her legacy and memory will continue to live on through her family and everyone she has touched to make the world a better place for generations to come."

Patterson-Powe praised Duke Energy's moving gesture on Facebook.

"Please bring your family and friends to witness this moment and honor our QUEEN," she wrote alongside a photo of the Charlotte skyline glowing purple in celebration of her great-grandmother. "You have the option of riding around the city to view the skyline or coming uptown to enjoy a walk in the area—either way it will be SPECTACULAR!!"

Ford's family has set up a memorial fund with Safe Alliance, a non-profit organization providing support to those impacted by domestic violence and sexual assault within Mecklenburg County, in her honor.

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  1. Hester Ford. Fandom Gerontology Wiki.

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