Margaret E. Hardy, aided sick and needy

June 01, 1994|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,Sun Staff Writer

Margaret E. Hardy, whose dream of becoming a surgeon was frustrated by a lack of money and who then devoted her life to helping others, died of cancer at her home on Aisquith Street. She was 85.

The former Margaret Aquilla worked as a nurse's aide and later a housekeeper. She was born and reared in Baltimore, the ninth of 15 children born to Daniel O. and Carrie Lewis Aquilla. She received her education in city schools and was a graduate of Douglass High School.

She was a nurse's aide at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1930s and 1940s and developed a keen interest in surgery, spending her free time watching the surgeons at work.

Lewis C. Strudwick, a Baltimore lawyer with Ober, Kaler, Grimes & Shriver and a friend of many years, said, "Old Dr. J. M. T. Finney arranged for her to visit the operating theater in order to observe operations in progress. He encouraged her interest but because of a lack of money, she was unable to go on to school to study.

"In those days, blacks weren't allowed into the Marburg Building at Hopkins and when her supervisor got sick and sent for her, she became the first black ever to set foot in there."

"This lady, who my wife and I have known for over 30 years, was in my view the personification of a lady," Mr. Strudwick said. "She was of another era -- one of hard work, high standards and impeccable manners and morals. Even though she was very frustrated at today's conditions, she kept her hopes alive and tried, however."

Shelby Strudwick, Mr. Strudwick's wife, recalled Mrs. Hardy as "a warm, loving, wonderful human being with a wonderful sense of humor. She was really so much a part of our family that our children considered her their grandmother."

The focus of Mrs. Hardy was her church and home, where she opened her doors wide to those who needed inspiration, counseling or a meal.

"She used to say, 'Come in, sit down and get something to eat,' " said Margaret Conner, a granddaughter who lives in Baltimore. "She was a jewel. She had nothing but love for everybody."

Joyce Edwards, a granddaughter of Baltimore, said, "I think the most important thing in her life was having room at her table for anyone who knocked on her door.

"She fed and visited the sick and as a member of the visitation committee at church, used to take a video of the previous week's service to the homes of those who were unable to attend. She even found time to work in soup kitchens feeding the homeless."

For many years, Mrs. Hardy belonged to Centennial United Methodist Church in East Baltimore where she was a volunteer, served on the usher board, organized many church programs and assisted in the Sunday school to which she donated 100 Bibles to encourage youngsters in their religious education.

In March, a service at Centennial honored her years of work.

In 1925, she married Emmett Wees, a longshoreman who died in 1945. Her second husband, John R. Hardy, a laborer for American Standard, died in 1976.

Services will be held at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Centennial United Methodist Church, 1029 E. Monument St., Baltimore, with interment at 10 a.m. Saturday in Woodlawn Cemetery.

Survivors include a son, James Oliver Hardy of Baltimore; 20 other grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.

Memorial donations may be made to Centennial United Methodist Church.

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