Mary Margery Hardwick was born on December 17, 1939, eyes wide open to a world of learning, work, beauty, love, and possibility. She was lovingly greeted by parents Lawrence and Laura Gamel. The family of six farmed in Illinois, later moving to Isanti MN.
Mary and her siblings, Doris, Louise, and Bob attended a one-room country school. Education was valued by Mary and she excelled. She was valedictorian at Cambridge High School in 1957 and graduated with high honors from the University of Minnesota in 1962. She was a dedicated teacher at Richfield Junior High in Richfield MN.
While at the U of M, Mary met Alden Hardwick, a young man with whom she shared an appreciation of sports, humor, and an optimistic outlook. They married on June 22, 1963. Their wedding featured a song based on I Corinthians 13. The love in that chapter, a love that “never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful and endures through every circumstance,” characterized the 57 years of marriage Mary and Alden enjoyed. In 1966 the couple moved to a farm near Belle Plaine, MN where Mary was active in the farming and an equal partner in the enterprise. Neighbors said the Hardwicks were “farming as much land as Mary could handle.”
Mary was a worker. On the farm she plowed fields, planted corn, canned, cooked delicious and nutritious meals, sewed clothes for her family. She raised, guided, taught, and loved her three boys---Kirk, Tim and Todd---with fun and patience. With Mary a math major, Alden and all three sons as engineers, they called themselves “a family of math nerds.” Mary was a role model for getting things done with organization and zeal. In 1983 she opened Lake Country Crafts and Cones in Crosslake, MN. The ice cream business grew so big, the store became the largest seller of Kemps Ice Cream. The store was a joy for Mary with wonderful workers (including her three sons) and the opportunity to make many new friends among visitors to the area. She redecorated their lake cottage and with Alden built their new home on Goodrich Lake.
Mary combined work with beauty in the art of Rosemaling (Norwegian painting), creating extraordinary pieces that have found their way all over the world, including the Vatican. She sold many of them in her store. She also taught beginning Rosemaling classes for many years.
Mary loved the beauty of her art and the lake, but she always found beauty around her:
In the blossoms of the apple trees she planted on the farm
In the faces of her sons and their wives (Kirk and Joni, Tim and Cheri, Todd and Calista) and four grandchildren (Ghett, Jaxon, Laura, Christopher)
In a thriving church and the members of Crosslake Lutheran Church with their comfort, support, and affection
In her close friendship with her sister-in-law Sandy, with whom she shared the excitement of each having 3 sons less than 2 years old at the same time.
In an active community life including Habitat for Humanity and the inception of the Crosslake Library. Mary, with many volunteers, covered 11,000 donated books to form the opening stock. Mary had many gratifying hours as a volunteer in the opening and running of the library.
In the rich red of bougainvillea clinging to a wall on a Caribbean island—one of many cruises, trips, and adventures to destinations around the world with Alden
In the last years of their life together, when they could no longer travel, Mary and Alden took short trips, walks, and picnics to see the beauty nearby. Mary delighted in the thousands of begonias Alden planted, although she did not always agree with the need to “talk to the flowers.” Alden found the “element of fun” in every situation and Mary was always ready to respond with laughter. Even when her disease robbed her of words, a beautiful smile would appear on Mary’s face when she saw Alden. To her last breath Mary knew she was cherished. Yes, in all her learning, work, and beauty, Mary understood, “The greatest of these is love.” (I Corinthians 13:13).
Mary embraced the beauty of heaven on Dec. 2nd at the age of 80. A celebration of Mary’s life will be on June 22, Mary’s and Alden’s anniversary.