Monday, December 11, 2006
Moses Hardy, the last known black veteran to serve in World War I and believed to be oldest man in the continental United States, has died in Mississippi at age 113. Evelyn Davis, 68, one of Hardy's eight children, said her father died at a nursing home in Aberdeen. He would have been 114 on Jan. 6. "He had been doing great. He didn't suffer and he wasn't sick he died of old age," said Davis, of Aberdeen. "He knew everybody and those he knew he always knew them when they came in to visit." Robert Young, senior consultant for gerontology for Guinness World Records, said research by his agency, National Public Radio and others had been unable to locate any other surviving black WWI veterans. He said only about 10-12 American veterans of that war remain.
Moses HardyYoung said Hardy had been No. 6 on Guinness' list of the world's oldest people. He said Elizabeth Bolden, at 116, of Memphis, is believed to be the oldest person, while the oldest man on the list is 115-year-old Emiliano Mercado Del Toro of Puerto Rico. Young said Del Toro had been in military training when WWI ended and was never sent overseas. He said Hardy was sent to France and apparently saw some combat. Young said census records showed Hardy's father was born in the 1830s and that both of Hardy's parents were slaves. "NPR did a story for Veterans Day and interviewed Moses Hardy and a daughter," Young said. "According to the NPR story, after the Civil War ended his parents took a plot of land and the family still has the land." Young met with Hardy and Davis in 2004 and Davis said members of her family were able to vote even before the Voting Rights Act because of the length of time the family owned land. Davis said she would remember her father's "very calm and peaceful personality. He lived for a very long time. We knew this could happen at any time."