The family also ran a local store. When Ms. Hartley was growing up in Ebony in the 1960s, her father operated a business, which had a butcher shop, a barbershop and a mill in the back. Ms. Hartley helped her parents in the store when she was still a child, and she remembers her father working long hours, from early in the morning until late in the evening. “It was the center of our family life,” she said of small-town retailing.
Ms. Hartley attended the University of North Carolina, where she majored in math and later worked as a computer programmer, a rare position for a woman in the 1970s and ’80s and a point of pride for her.
She now owns her family’s house in Ebony, where family photos, spanning many generations, cover the walls and side tables.
Ms. Hartley’s primary residence is in Chapel Hill, N.C., about 90 miles south, but she regularly visits the house in Ebony.
Ms. Hartley says she is intent on protecting a rural intersection from a box store for the good of a community and local economy, which is seeking to boost tourism