Mary Louise Hardison dies at 91

March 03, 2000
Santa Paula News
Mary Louise Hardison, who quietly spent over seven decades working for the community, died at home in Santa Paula on Feb. 28, 2000. She was 91 years old. Born Nov. 23, 1908 in Woodland, CA., one of three children of Byron and Juanita Logan Nordyke, in her youth Mary Louise enjoyed summers on the Logan family farm near Redding, swimming in the Sacramento River and camping near Mount Lassen, two pursuits she enjoyed throughout her life. While visiting with her cousin, Elizabeth Hardison in Santa Paula, she met Elizabeth’s cousin, Robert Hardison, the beginning of a relationship that would endure for more than 70 years.After graduating from Woodland High School, Mary Louise received her teaching credential from San Jose State University while Robert attended nearby Stanford University. Robert and Mary Louise married June 30, 1930 in Stanford’s Memorial Church.The couple settled near Robert’s family in Santa Paula where Mary Louise taught at Isbell School until the birth of her first child.During her 70 years in Santa Paula, Mary Louise was active in various organizations including the PTA, Assistance Association, Santa Paula Memorial Hospital Auxiliary, Ebell Club and Mary A. Livermore Society.In December, Mary Louise was named “Citizen of the Millennium” by Santa Paula Memorial Hospital during their annual gala fundraiser. At that time, President of the SPMH Board of Directors Phil Romney noted her “grace, elegance, intelligence, good humor and strong devotion to community.”Robert Hardison was intimately involved in the creation of SPMH and then served it through numerous committees and as chair of the Hospital Foundation. Both Hardisons could be counted on to support the hospital through their generosity “whenever anything was needed,” said Romney.Mary Louise lived with adversity her entire life after being born without hip sockets; years of surgery followed, including to other areas of her body impacted by the defect.“It complicated her life,” but not her spirit, said her daughter, Dorcas Thille. “Only once did I see her in agony,” when Mary Louise was walking across a parking lot and - believing she was unobserved - her face reflected the pain.“But she did it, she had sheer grit,” Dorcas added.
Mary Louise had a dry wit that was demonstrated when people would offer the standard goodbye, “Have a nice day. . .” “I have other plans,” Mary Louise would reply.“Mother was wonderful,” said Dorcas, and “she loved Santa Paula, it was her home.”Throughout her life she enjoyed bridge, chocolate, the company of friends and family, and travel; she and Robert traveled to Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, the Middle East, Europe, China, the Panama Canal and Venezuela.Mrs. Hardison was predeceased in 1996 by her husband Robert and will be remembered by her daughter Dorcas Hardison Kimball Thille, and her son and daughter-in-law, Logan and Carol Essert Hardison. Her sisters, Betty Scher and Helen Krug, and brother James Nordyke, children of Byron and Merle Binkley Nordyke, survive her. Her grandchildren and their spouses include Gordon and Nancy Kimball, Robert and Lise Ann Kimball Clausen, Margaret Kimball, Nicholas and Darcie Thille, Peter and Anne Thille, Robert and Jennifer Thille, Thomas and Jane Hardison, Larry and Jeanine Hardison Lancaster, and Michael and Kelly Hardison. She is survived also by 15 great-grandchildren.“The family is deeply grateful to her wonderful caregivers who cared for her as one of their own and enabled her to live out her days in the comfort and beauty of her own home,” said Dorcas. Also appreciated are her many friends who kept in touch and the Hospice of Santa Clara Valley.In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to Blanchard Community Library Endowment Fund, the Women’s Legacy Fund at the Ventura Community Foundation, Santa Paula Memorial Hospital or a charity of choice.A memorial service will be held Tuesday, March 7 at 11 a.m. at Universalist Unitarian Church of Santa Paula.

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