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Moses Hardy, last known black WWI veteran; at 113

JACKSON, Miss. -- Moses Hardy, believed to be the second-oldest man in the world and the last black US veteran of World War I, has died at age 113, family members said yesterday .

Evelyn Davis, 68, one of Mr. Hardy's eight children, said her father died Thursday 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 group, National Public Radio and others had been unable to locate any other surviving black WWI veterans.

He said only about 10 to 12 American veterans of that war remain.

Young said Mr. Hardy had been number 6 on Guinness's list of the world's oldest people. He said Elizabeth Bolden, at 116, of Memphis, Tenn., 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.

Del Toro is also a veteran, but Young said he had been in military training when WWI ended and was never sent overseas. He said Mr. Hardy was sent to France and apparently saw some combat.

Young said census records showed that Mr. Hardy's father was born in the 1830s and that both of Mr. 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."

Eric Matthews, funeral director at Westbrook Funeral Home in Aberdeen, said services for Mr. Hardy would be tomorrow .

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."

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