DECATUR, Ga. (FOX 5 Atlanta) - Not many people get the chance to celebrate their 111th birthday, but that's just what one Decatur woman is doing this weekend.
Willie Mae Hardy was born in Junction City, Georgia on March 11, 1908. The granddaughter of a slave, she worked on a farm and in the cotton fields while also looking after her six younger siblings. While she had to leave school at an early age to help her family, Hardy valued an education and learned how to read and write.
She moved to Atlanta in 1939 after the birth of her only child, her daughter Cassie Neil, to look for a better life. It was in Atlanta that she met the love her life, Frank Harvey, and became a member of the Butler Street Baptist Church. She has remained a member of the church to this day, and has served for more than 72 years in various capacities.
In 1966, Hardy moved to Decatur to help raise her seven grandchildren following the sudden death of her son-in-law to cancer. She's lived in Decatur ever since, watching over her growing family and working as a housekeeper for over 60 years before retiring in the 1980s.
Willie Mae is famous in her family for her infamous Sunday dinners where all the generations of grandchildren would gather to eat together.
"Regardless of her age, she remains to be a loving and caring grandmother, our family backbone, a dedicated church member and dear friend," one of her close friends said in a statement.
She loves pastel colors, listening to gospel music, watching inspirational shows and spending time with family and close friends.
Her favorite TV shows include “Gunsmoke," "Bonanza," and “The Andy Griffith Show.” Her favorite movie of all time is "The Help."
Hardy has lived to see six generations of children grow up in her family. She has one daughter (and roommate of over 61 years), seven grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren, 30 great-great-grandchildren and four great-great-great-grandchildren.
Everyone here at FOX 5 wishes Mrs. Willie Mae Hardy the best on her special day!