The 90-year-old mother of eight lives quietly in Martinsburg with her daughter, Darlene Cuddy, filling her weekdays with crossword puzzles and game show reruns, and going out to eat on Saturdays.
But her life was not always so tranquil.
Hull grew up one of 10 siblings on Tommytown Road off Sharpsburg Pike south of Hagerstown. At 18 years old, she married, moved to Williamsport and started a family with her husband, Daniel Hull.
Dorothy Hull recalls the couple’s oldest child was about 11 years old when her husband passed away. Cuddy, 59, and sister Jackie Keefer, 60, of Hagerstown, remember hearing that their father had been in a truck accident, but they never knew a lot of details.
“She raised all of us by herself,” Keefer said. “She cleaned houses to make a living. Our older sisters watched us, too.”
Not long after her husband died, Hull’s oldest child, Gene, was diagnosed with leukemia. He died at 15 years old.
Hull had known tragedy even before the deaths of her husband and her son. When daughter Alice Cox, 68, of Hagerstown, was just 5 years old, she was run over by a 30-ton cement truck on her way home from school for lunch. She was in the hospital for months, Cuddy said.
And when daughter Glenda Green, 67, of Hagerstown, was 5 years old, she was burned while playing with matches in the backyard. Cuddy said Green had third-degree burns on her body and endured an extended hospitalization.
“My mother is a very strong woman. She just kept going,” Cuddy said. “A lot of people couldn’t handle half the stress she has had. I know I wouldn’t have been able to.”
Hull explained her ability to withstand her challenges this way: “I don’t know how I did it. The good Lord, I guess.”
Hull worked at McCrory’s to support her family, cooking at the restaurant there. Keefer said her mother walked to work, without missing a day, whatever the weather. Cuddy said Hull was strict and that she “kept it all together.”
“We had our chores to do. If she said have the dusting done and the floors mopped, we had it done before she got home,” Cuddy said.
Hull’s children graduated from North Hagerstown High School. Marg Hammond, 70, lives in Downsville; Donnie Hull, 65, resides in Greencastle, Pa.; and Norma Kopka, 62, lives in Martinsburg.
Keefer said she appreciates her mother’s sacrifice.
“She did without a lot to make sure we had food on the table and clothes to wear,” Keefer said. “She didn’t buy herself new clothes or nothing like that.”
Though money was tight, Cuddy remembers her mom making sure her kids had some fun.
“In the olden days, there would be a fair at the fairgrounds,” she said. “Times were hard, but she made sure she found a couple of dollars so we could go and have a good time.”
Hull saw three of her children through medical trials as adults when Cox, Green and Cuddy each battled and survived breast cancer. Cuddy said her mother stood by each of them, providing support and encouragement.
Though she has slowed some, Cuddy said Hull remains a hard worker — vacuuming, washing dishes and doing what she can around the house.
“She is a helping lady, a caring lady, very giving,” Cuddy said. “She has done for me all my life and she still does.”