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The Daily Tar Heel

Residents Gather to Praise Life of Chapel Hill Legend

The funeral service was so well-attended that church officials opened up the annex and set up fold-out chairs for visitors.

Just a week ago, many of these same faces were honoring Hargraves for her contributions to Chapel Hill at the Horace Williams House. Sunday they met again to celebrate not only her contributions but also her life.

Hargraves, 87, died about 1 a.m. April 16 in her Caldwell Street residence. Hargraves, who was born on April 23, 1914, as Frances Neal, grew up on a farm located at 407 W. Franklin St.

Hargraves married William Hargraves and had two children, William Hargraves and Alyce Bynum.

Both of her children preceded her in death.

Rev. Larnie Horton told the church's congregation Sunday afternoon that the church plans to create a flower garden for Hargraves, which will be tagged the Frances Neal Hargraves Memorial Garden. Hargraves taught Sunday school at the church for 53 years. "Sister Frances was our flower," he told the crowd. "We thank God for her memory."

R.D. Smith said he became Hargrave's neighbor in 1944. "She's been an excellent neighbor," Smith said, adding that they both had taught in Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools.

Hargraves was one of the first black teachers to instruct students when the school system was integrated. Hargraves also served on a number of boards including The Women's Center. Her outside endeavors included the Chapel Hill Museum.

Edwin Caldwell, Hargraves' nephew, said she was especially involved in the Retired Senior Volunteer Program, where she worked for 26 years.

Jonathan Howes, director of UNC's Master Plan and former mayor of Chapel Hill, said he became acquainted with Hargraves because of her work in the community. "This woman was 80 years old or older and putting her miles on, knowing what was going on. All of that, not only did it help her to retain her health for such a long time, but it helped her keep her eyes on the community."

Hargraves worked especially hard to bring attention to the Hargraves Community Center, which was named after her son, who died in 1973. "As far as the Hargraves Center was concerned, she always made the (Chapel Hill Town) Council aware of the need to keep working to improve the center," Howes said.

Little slowed Hargraves down, friends say. Smith laughed as he recalled the afternoons she would spend in her backyard pitching horseshoes.

"She will be terribly missed in this community because she was a part of it -- spiritually, socially."

The City Editor can be reached at citydesk@unc.edu.

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