Josephine Lia Shelton Hardison was called to heaven this past Saturday after a long and glorious life. Known to her family as “Abie” she leaves behind a Daughter, Caroline Hardison Sexton and two grandchildren, Katelyn Sexton Maginnes and David Weldon Sexton. One of Josephine's last acts on this earth was to welcome her first great grandchild, Bennett Ashe Maginnes to the world the day before she passed. Josephine was preceded in death by her siblings, Sergio Manuel, Lucetta, and Dora Marta. Her sister, Julia Shelton Bulla lives in California along with many nieces and nephews.
Abie was the matriarch of her own family and the guiding light for so many others. She was a devoted wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, sister and friend. Friends very special in her life were Minerva Jefferies (like a daughter), Suella Klug (neighbor and best friend), Rene’ Morales, Vilma Pruna Roberts and too many others to list. She was always proud to share that she was godmother to a host of children throughout her life in the Alamance County Area. Her passions were family, friends, her faith, gardening and dancing. She literally danced her way through nearly ten decades of life. She attended Blessed Sacrament Church where she championed the creation of the Hispanic ministry, she was a charter member of the Teresians, a lector proclaiming the word of God in both Spanish and English, dedicated to making infant baptismal stoles, participated in Meals on Wheels, community interpreter, and much more.
Her journey began in Cuba in 1925, as the youngest of 5. As a young woman Josephine traveled to America for the first time to visit relatives in Philadelphia in 1946. Josephine would return to the United States in 1948 and settle in Alamance County where she went to work for Burlington Mills and later Kayser Roth. During this time Josephine lived in a boarding house with 6 other women. These ladies loved to go dancing at the Plantation Supper Club in Greensboro. While there one evening she met and danced with a handsome young man named Hugh Bennett Hardison, Jr. In 1956 the young couple were married and began a life together that would impact the community around them for years to come.
They built the family home on May Drive where they would spend the next 50 years. Their annual 4th of July celebration extended throughout the neighborhood as it was not only Independence Day but also a celebration of the anniversary of Josephine becoming a US Citizen. Josephine was a founding member of the Piedmont International Club. She enjoyed performing the Rumba, a native dance of Cuba, at those gatherings. From early on you would find Josephine usually wearing a hat of some mild outrage and that became her signature style.
Hugh introduced Josephine to the wonders of flying and joy of surf fishing. She could land a plane with confidence and cast a fishing line with proficiency. Trips to the Outer Banks for fishing, especially each Thanksgiving, were the norm. But Burlington was home and would remain home for over 70 years. The two built a business, Haw River Plastics, Inc. together in Burlington. Josephine was a constant figure at her church and any activity her family was involved in. Community projects and programs were a constant part of her life and her community grew and grew throughout the years. Once her grandchildren arrived Abie immersed herself in their lives too. She was at every milestone of their lives for as long as she could be- and talk about proud! Around her 88th birthday she “persuaded” her mechanic and close friend Rene’ to help her purchase her dream car, a convertible. You never had to ask Abie twice to put on a hat to go teach a dance to a group, cheer on a grandchild, help interpret, or dance the evening away. She would jump into her convertible and off she would go!
Her zest for life was infectious and her joy was inspiring. The number of lives that she touched is countless and her impact immeasurable. In lieu of flowers please consider a donation to Hospice of Burlington, 914 Chapel Hill Rd, Burlington, NC 27215 or Centro La Comunidad, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Raleigh, 328 W. Davis St., Burlington, NC 27215
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