111-year-old woman, the granddaughter of a slave, dies in Georgia

Willie Mae Hardy, seated, was thrilled to meet former first lady Michelle Obama, third from left.

Born the grandchild of a slave in 1908, Willie Mae Hardy was born.

She lived through the Great Depression, two world wars, Jim Crow and the civil rights era. She even saw the light to vote for a Black president and met his wife.

Willie Mae Hardy said her secret to longevity was “Trusting in the Good Lord.”

Hardy died in her sleep at 111, she one of the people in the country. She enjoyed a “wonderful life,” her caretaker and granddaughter, Veronica Edwards told CNN.

“She didn’t want for anything,” Edwards said. “She was involved in the community until her health declined. She was caring and had a loving heart.”

Hardy was born on a former slave plantation in Junction City, Georgia March 11, 1908. She remembers stories told by her grandmother Nancy about life as a slave – working from sun up to sun down, picking cotton, and having no freedom.

Living in the Jim Crow rural south was not easy for her grandmother said Edwards. Hardy left school to work the fields to help her family after the third grade. In the late 1930s she moved to Atlanta with her soon-to-be-husband and daughter, working as a maid for wealthy families.

In 2019 she had the chance to meet former first lady Michelle Obama, who visited Atlanta on her book tour.

“She was overwhelmed,” Edwards said of Hardy’s reaction. “She was happy. She asked, ‘She wants to meet me?'”

Hardy is survived by five grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren, 31 great-great children and four great-great-great-grandchildren.

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