111-Year-Old Atlanta Resident Willie Mae Hardy Looks Back on Her Remarkable Life, Shares Her Secret to Longevity

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A longtime Atlanta resident who’s lived through both World Wars, the Great Depression and the civil rights movement is reflecting on her phenomenal life — and spilling her secret on what’s kept her around so long.

Willie Mae Hardy, who celebrated her 111th birthday this past March, has pretty much seen it all, her granddaughter, Veronica Edwards told WSB-TV. Born in 1908, Hardy was the granddaughter of a slave and spent much of her days doing chores on a plantation in Junction City, Georgia, with her seven siblings.

Willie Mae Hardy
Willie Mae Hardy, 111, (left) is showered with love by her granddaughter, Veronica Edwards, who looks after her at their East Atlanta home. (WSB-TV / video screenshot)

By the time she reached her 20s, she married her husband and subsequently relocated to the Atlanta area — some 99 miles north — at the outbreak of World War II.

“She’s really been through a lot, and she’s seen a lot,” said Edwards, who looks after her grandmother in the East Atlanta home Hardy has lived in since the 1960s. “So we just cherish every moment we have with her.”

“She has endured so much in her life,” Edwards added. “You hear about people talk about civil rights?  She is civil rights, growing up in the Jim Crow era.”

When asked her secret to a long life, Hardy replied: “Trusting in the good Lord.”

According to her relatives, Hardy has seven grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren, 30 great-great grandchildren and four great-great-great grandchildren. She worked as a domestic housekeeper for more than six decades and has been an active member of the Butler Street Baptist Church for over 73 years.

Although she’s too old to attend service, family members said she continues to tithe and take communion.

WSB-TV reports that at her home, the golden ager has several cherished mementos, including a birthday card signed by former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama.

Earlier this year, family and friends told FOX 5 News that Hardy is famous for her Sunday dinners “where all the generations of grandchildren would gather to eat together.” She also enjoys watching TV, they said, and some of her favorite shows include Tyler Perry’s “Meet the Browns,” and “The Andy Griffith Show.” 

Hardy is a beloved matriarch, whom relatives describe as the “backbone” of the family.

“We love you. We appreciate you,” Edwards told Hardy before planting several kisses on her cheek and forehead. “We couldn’t do without you. I love you, grandmomma.”

Watch more in the video below.

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