When Frances Hardy walked into an employment office in Washington D.C. in the late 1950’s to find a teaching position, she was told that she would need to take speech classes to ease her southern accent before she could work in the schools. Her skills outweighed her accent, fortunately, and she got a job offer just two days later. But even as she built a long and contented life in the District, she always kept her Southern roots close. More than six decades later, the lilt in her voice still hints at her childhood home. Frances was born on November 16, 1922 to Lloyd and Allynne Craddock in the tiny rural community of Ammon, Virginia. Her father died when she was only seven-years old, and her mother remarried soon after. The family made their home in Blackstone, Virginia, an agricultural town that seemed like a big city to her at the time. Her stepfather was a postal worker, who started his career delivering mail by horseback. Despite a five-year age gap, Frances was extremely close to her younger sister Mary Lloyd. The two sisters would do everything together. The first time Frances went on a date, her sister cried because she wanted to go with her.
Frances’ vivacious personality and flowing brown hair landed her many suitors. One time she came back from a date and stopped by the house to tell her sister to hold a ring that the first date had given her before heading out to her second date, her daughter said. Frances was introduced to her husband Walter, known as Felly, by her cousin when she was in 8th grade, although the two did not begin exclusively dating until later. After finishing high school, she attended Blackstone College for Girls before transferring to Longwood College, now Longwood University, in Farmville, Va., to pursue a degree in elementary education. At Longwood, she was a member of the Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority, where she made many lifelong friends. Felly went to a neighboring boys' college. They stayed in touch and got married a few months after her graduation and moved to Felly’s hometown of Amelia, Virginia near Blackstone. When Felly got a job as an accountant for a law firm in Washington D.C. they relocated with their young daughter, Kelly, first to Northern Virginia then to an apartment in Friendship Heights, closer to Felly’s work downtown. Frances never imagined she would end up living in a city, but she loved Washington D.C. and took full advantage of what the city had to offer. She often visited museums and special exhibits and loved to recall the blistering cold evening she waited in line to see the Mona Lisa when it was on temporary display at the National Gallery.
During the summers the family would go to military band concerts at the Watergate, soaking up the summer sun and music from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. On the Fourth of July, they would bring a blanket and watch the fireworks from the grounds of the Washington Monument. They also attended the Inaugural parade of John F. Kennedy. When he passed by, Frances swore she saw him wave to her, her daughter recalled. She worked at Hardy Elementary School until the early 1970’s. The political atmosphere and racial tensions of the late 1960’s created a lot of challenges in the public school system. With peak enrollment and staff shortages, Frances struggled to teach combined grades. She retired early in the 1970s, and spent much of her time later in life volunteering. She has been an active and dedicated member of Metropolitan Memorial United Methodist Church, recently renamed National United Methodist Church, for nearly 50 years. She volunteered her time and talents to a wide range of church activities throughout the years from the annual fall bazaar to teaching vacation Bible School to numerous and wide-ranging United Methodist Women (UMW) projects. In fact, she continues to be a member of her UMW Circle. She was also active with the Chevy Chase Women’s Club and the Women’s Guild at the Methodist Home which was later renamed Forest Hills Senior Living. She would arrange entertainment for the residents and organize celebrations for their birthdays at the nursing home, where her mother also lived until her death in 1997. Frances moved into Forest Hills herself in 2002 after a stroke. Between Frances, her mother, and frequent visits from her sister Mary Lloyd and her daughter Kelly, the family is well known at Forest Hills.