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Mother Fannie Ruth Prince Hardy was born Fannie Ruth Prince in McCormick, South Carolina, on March 20, 1921, to John and Lula Prince. She was raised in a loving home with her parents and siblings. Her sisters Louise Prince Wells, Marie Prince Patterson, Louellen Prince Bland, Ada Lee Prince Gilchrist, Arneda Janie Prince Bell (“Lil’ Baby”), and Moline Prince Harrison — and her brothers J.C. Prince, Robert Prince, Mansfield Prince (“Buddy”), Richard Prince, Wiley Prince, and Eugene Prince (“Gene”) all preceded her in death.
Faith and education were priorities in the Prince home. Fannie Ruth received her education at the New Hope schoolhouse. She received Christ at an early age and was baptized at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church under the pastorship of Rev. Marshall. She went on to serve New Hope Missionary Baptist Church as a member of the missionary board, a star alto in the shape note choir, and a member of the Baptist Union Singing Convention.
At the age of 18 (1939), she met and married Jessie Hardy and settled in Plum Branch, SC. The couple started a family and maintained their strong connections in McCormick County, establishing homes in Plum Branch and McCormick, SC, as their family grew. To this union were born nine children: Melvin (deceased), Franklin Roosevelt (“Bigun”), Winston Churchill (“Lil’un” — deceased), Iola, Lula Bell (“Punchie”), Thomas, Mary Ellen (“Baby”), Joe Nathan (deceased), and Larry. She inherited the gift of sewing from her mother Lula, and sewed beautiful clothing for her children by hand.
In 1964, Fannie Ruth moved the family to North Plainfield, N.J., eventually settling in Plainfield, N.J., where she purchased a home and became a loyal member of Warren’s Temple Church of the Living God under the pastorate of Bishop Arthur Warren in Fanwood, N.J. There, she served on the Sunday School, Senior Choir, Mother’s Board, and Missionary Department, and was the president of The Pastor’s Aid. A gifted cook, she also frequently made dishes for church events.
She worked as a housekeeper and an industrial worker before joining the staff of Muhlenberg Hospital, serving in the housekeeping department and specializing in the nursery area until her retirement at the age of 65 in 1986.
After retiring, the gifted and industrious Mother Hardy turned her attention to a cooking business that she ran out of her home, drawing customers from near and far for her delicious, soulful recipes sold by the plate. She also found time to devote to her passions of gardening, design, and sewing. On several occasions, her extraordinarily beautiful flower and vegetable gardens were covered by Plainfield newspapers.
She was devoted to her large and loving family, and was a vivid presence in the lives of her children, sons- and daughters-in-law, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. She was known for her weekly Sunday dinners and holiday dinners — especially Christmas Dinners. A grand matriarch of 8 adult children, 11 grandchildren, 21 great-grands, and 3 great-great-grands, Fannie loved to bring her family together. Family, church members, and neighbors traveled to enjoy her fried chicken, yams, corn bread, chopped barbecue, ham, collard greens from her garden, and homemade pound cakes.
Full of love and compassion, Fannie was a mother for every child who needed a home. Her door and home were always open. She was known as “Mama Church Lady” by the youth of the community, whom she fed and welcomed into her home. She had a quick wit, an uncanny sense of humor, and a wonderful way with words and stories. She delighted everyone with her infectious laughter, her beautiful singing voice, her devotion to family, her mothering of the community, and her legendary fashion sense. A creative, classy, and sophisticated fashion role model, she was always impeccably dressed. She sported an endless array of hats, suits, shoes, handkerchiefs, and gloves.
When she could no longer travel to Warren’s Temple, she joined House of Prayer Church of God in Christ in Plainfield, N.J., under the pastorate of Bishop William T. Cahoon. There, she served as the Mothers’ Board President and was a loyal and faithful member until she relocated to Lawrenceville, Georgia in 2006. After relocating to Georgia, she became Church Mother and the eldest member of Judah House of Praise Pentecostal Church in Stone Mountain, GA, under the pastorate of Bishop Cary G. Williams. In 2017, Mother Hardy reestablished her membership at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church under Pastor Michael A. Butler, and remained a loyal supporting member until she went to be with the Lord. Fannie Ruth was the eldest member of New Hope Missionary Baptist Church.
In the final years of her life, Fannie Ruth’s family and community gathered around her. Her dutiful son, Larry, always remained in the family home and kept a watchful eye on his mother. Fannie Ruth loved all of her faithful caregivers, and developed a strong bond with Stella, Maria, Abby, and Cindy, who treated her as a mother and grandmother. Mother Hardy remained in Lula Bell’s home and care from 2006 until her passing.
Fannie Ruth Prince Hardy transitioned from labor to reward on February 8, 2021 at nearly 101 years of age. She leaves to cherish her loving memory six children: Franklin Roosevelt Hardy, Iola Hardy Bennett, Lula Bell Hardy, Thomas Hardy, Mary Ellen Hardy Lake, and Larry Hardy; Grandchildren Renee Bennett, Hope Malcolm, Randey Bennett, Felicia Lake-Jones, Cynthia Blackmon, Tara Lake, Thomas Hardy Jr., and Tonya Hardy; 21 great-grandchildren and 3 great-great-grandchildren; numerous nieces and nephews; a devoted goddaughter, Patricia Jones, and a host of family and friends.