Walter Norris Hardy Sr.

Published 5:42 pm Monday, July 23, 2018

SURRY — Mr. Walter Norris Hardy Sr., 90 entered into eternal rest peacefully on Sunday, July 15, 2018 at his home in Surry. 

He was born on April 12, 1928 in Surry, the eldest of five children born to the late Walter and Rebecca Bradby Hardy and grew up on the family farm. He was affectionately known as “Norris” by his family and friends; he was “Daddy” to his children; and “Papa” to his grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents; his wife, Glennis “Becky” Hardy; his sister, Vera “Mup” Godwin; and daughter, Bernadeen Newby. 

His early education began in the segregated school system of Surry County where he attended a two-room schoolhouse. He later attended and matriculated from Isle of Wight Training School in Smithfield, which offered him a better education. He accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior at an early age and became a faithful member of First Gravel Hill Baptist Church. He served in many capacities until his health began to fail, including church treasurer, Sunday school teacher, deacon (later becoming Deacon Emeritus), VBS teacher, Men’s Day chairperson, and a member of the Couple’s Ministry.

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He was employed at Gwaltney of Smithfield for 36 years, retiring as a supervisor in ham boning. He later co-owned and operated Rushmere Food Mart Inc. with his brother Thomas and two family friends for 10 years. 

In service to his community, Walter worked to help citizens register to vote. He, along with his brother Thomas and other friends, was passionate about making Surry County a better place to live, to provide recreation, job opportunities and to receive an education. In that effort, he, along with three other gentlemen, ran for public office and made history by becoming the first blacks to be elected to the Surry County Board of Supervisors. He assisted in the hiring of a county attorney and a superintendent of schools. There was land purchased for a new school, an architect hired and plans designed. Surry County High School was constructed in 1976. It provided students with an indoor gymnasium, an air-conditioned building and a football field and baseball field with lights. In 1982, Surry Elementary School was constructed and became occupied in 1983. Later in 1995, Luther Porter Jackson Middle School was built to house grades 5-8 to accommodate the growing student population. 

During Mr. Hardy’s tutelage, the Surry County Recreation Center, the Surry County Government Center and the Surry Family Health Center were constructed. With the construction of the named facilities came services and jobs for the residents of Surry County. 

During his tenure on the board, Walter held the position of chair and vice-chair (which he believed should be rotated among the members), was appointed by governors of Virginia to serve on the Board of Trustees for the Chippokes Plantation State Park and served on the Surry County’s Social Services Board. He retired from the Surry County Board of Supervisors in 1999 after 27 years of service. He lived by the motto: “If I can help somebody along the way, then my living shall not be in vain”.

Walter is a U.S. veteran having served in the United States Army from 1954 to 1956. 

On April 15, 1978, he married Glennis Rebecca Savedge and to this union three children were born and families were blended. He loved his family and worked hard to provide. He demonstrated good work ethics and unconditional love. He taught his children about the Lord, not just dropping them off at church, but attending church and Sunday school together. He also taught them about being of service to others.  

To cherish his memories, he leaves his children, daughters, Zelma Williams of Florida, Bernita Brown of Hampton, Grace Hamlin, Frances Mutts (David) and Lisa Newby (Joseph), all of Smithfield, Daphne Parker of Charlotte, N.C., Kimberly Hardy-Savage (Andre’) of Surry; two sons, Walter N. Hardy Jr., Thomas Hardy (Jamila), both of Surry; one brother, Thomas S. Hardy (Gladys) of Surry; two sisters, Sarah Jean Walden of Suffolk and Florease Minnis (Ralph) of Smithfield; two brothers-in-law, Alfred Godwin of Surry and Dennis Savedge of Waverly; two sisters-in-law, Jean S. Lane of Surry and Janice Savedge of Virginia Beach; a host of grandchildren, including Andre’, Olivia, Aaron, Austin and Thomas Jr.; great grandchildren, great-great grandchildren, nieces, nephews, cousins and other relatives.