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October 8, 1919 ~ February 11, 2023 (age 103) 103 Years Old
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Hardenia Williams was born in Livingston, Alabama on October 8, 1919, from the union of the late Fred and Sophie (Brown) Travis. She was the first of seven children of this marriage: Hardenia, Bobby Lee, Robert, James, Sam, Edward, and Fannie. Their grandfather, Joe Travis held the family together and protected them against injustices in their community which was called "Travis Place."
Hardenia and three siblings were raised in their early years by their grandmother, Fannie Morris. She and her brother James moved to Cleveland in 1937; her brother, Bobby Lee (Bob), migrated in 1939, by then all seven children were with their mother. Due to segregated conditions in the South, their father, Fred, had to hurriedly leave Livingston which separated the family. Although separated, the family kept in touch throughout the years. Upon arriving in Cleveland, she enrolled in school. Her grandmother's cousin, Rebekah Greer was a member Mt. Hermon and encouraged Hardenia to attend the church. On June 26, 1938, she became a member of Mt. Hermon Baptist Church which lasted eighty-four years. She was also a faithful member of the Ladies Guild. She was recently recognized as being the second eldest member of the church. Other family members, including her mother were also members. She led a Christian life as commanded by the word of God.
Hardenia married John Wesley Williams in 1940 and to this union, two children were born: Rebecca and John. She encouraged them to learn and to attend Sunday school and church services. They too became members. She often told them to "learn to do more than one thing in life." Her belief was "do unto others as you would have them do unto you." One phrase she would occasionally say: "What shall I render (to the Lord)"?
Hardenia enjoyed cooking, gardening, and having a clean and organized home. She was indeed a "home engineer". In her earlier years she was known as the beautician in her neighborhood. Neighbors and family members enjoyed her kneaded rolls, canning (especially chow chow) and other meals that she prepared. She also enjoyed birthday parties. On her one-hundredth birthday, she met Wayne Dawson, cohost of Fox 8 who gave her TV recognition on her 100th and 103rd birthdays. Of the various jobs she had over the years, she enjoyed working at St. Aloysius in the lunchroom with children.
She leaves to cherish her memories her children, Rebecca L. Jefferson, and John Williams; grandchildren, Adah D. Williams, and Kenneth L. Jefferson (Tonya); great-grandchildren, Joey, Austin and Destiny; sister, Fannie Duvall and will be missed by many generational nieces, nephews and in-laws.