BOLIVIA — Marilyn Hardie of Leland died at Brunswick Novant Hospital in Bolivia, NC on January, 30, 2023. Born Marilyn Joan Ward, on June 30, 1949, she was the child of Dora and Jim Ward of the Whiteville area of Columbus County, NC. She had three older siblings from her mother’s previous marriage; Billye Rose, Bea and Jimmy Canady.
As a young child she helped out on the family farm where her love of growing gardens and flowers was first established. As an early teen she worked in the tobacco barns stringing tobacco leaves. A bit of a tom-boy; she even drove her Daddy’s tractor.
At 13, Marilyn went to a party where she ended up behind the point of a spinning bottle that a 15-year-old boy had spun. They left the room for their kiss and that is when Johnny Hardie says he fell in love. Right then, right there. After that, he’d ride his horse the three miles between their houses to visit her until he got his driver’s licenses. After graduation, Johnny joined the U.S. Air Force for four years. At age 17, Marilyn left high school to marry Johnny, who was then 19. They were wed onJuly 15, 1966. “She was 5”2’ and 100 percent love,” is how Johnny describes her after 56 years of marriage.
The couple began their life together in Columbus County but soon moved to Leland, in Brunswick County, for Johnny’s work. They would remain in Leland.
Their first son, Les was born two years after they got married. A second son, David, was born three years later.
In 1973 the couple moved to Blake Circle where they would raise their family, build a cottage for Marilyn’s mama, Dora, right behind their house. They made friends and built a life there on the circle.
After David was born, Marilyn went back to school and received her GED. She got a job as a Teacher’s Assistant at Lincoln Elementary School, later changed to Leland Primary. She spent 15 years in the third grade, followed by 15 years in kindergarten. When she talked about the difference in the grades she always said “At least third graders were potty trained.” Her job included driving a school bus. She made lifelong friends at Lincoln and memories that will live on in the hearts of her many co-workers. While working, Marilyn went back to school again and received an Associates Degree in Education, making the Dean’s list.
The Hardies joined Leland Baptist Church in 1970 and remained life-long members. Marilyn was well known for her years in the choir. She even filled in on the piano on occasion, though it made her very nervous to play in front of so many people. For years, Marilyn sewed banners and flags whenever they were needed at church; a skill she learned from her Mama.
It was a final move back to farm life, the Hardies built a home on Saddleback Trail, off of Malmo Loop Road. They were able to have horses and dogs and cats and gardens and beautiful flowers. “She made everywhere we lived a home,” her son Les remembers. She kept a spotless house, the yards mowed, and the gardens picked. Her family recalls that she ironed everything, including underwear. Johnny says she didn’t want him to ever look bad if he left the house. He says Marilyn left him with an ample supply of ironed shirts in the closet.
Poking a little fun that his Mama’s driving, David says she was barely tall enough to see over the steering wheel. Granddaughter Sarah chimes in with, “She only hit trees that didn’t move.”
Sarah says her Nanny’s visit to her home in Idaho when they made a dining room table together, is one of her favorite memories.
Kameryn recalls the time nanny was Almost arrested! The girls wanted to try barrel racing in a rodeo show. The event was being held in Florence SC. We all were so excited. We purchased our tickets, and found our seats …only to find out that they weren’t in the show, but AFTER the main show. So we sat there and watched as all the events too place. When it was time for the barrel racers, every rider that ran their turn, nanny Hardie would say “Well, my granddaughters runs faster than that!” Finally, the main show was over, and she says loudly “WELL THANK GOODNESS!” We remained in our seats as ALL the other patrons left. We couldn’t wait to see our girls run! One of the centers employees came by picking up trash and informed us that the stadium would now be closed, and that we would need to leave. Nanny Hardie was having NONE OF THAT NONSENSE! She explained to that man that her granddaughters were about run and she refused to LEAVE HER SEAT!!! The employee left after she spoke so sharply to him, but brought back a police officer! The police officer explained to all of us (who were now standing), except nanny Hardie (who’s still in her seat!!), that if we didn’t vacate, he could arrest us for disorderly conduct. Les IMMEDIATELY grabbed his mother who was still showing how unhappy she was that she couldn’t watch her granddaughters race…and we quickly left the seats!!!! We then went down to the floor level, snuck in a back door, and nanny got to watch the girl run their race.
Another good one is that when I was in elementary school and when school ended I would sneak over to her classroom and get a Coke. She always had it stocked full!
Grandson David says, “Nanny running as fast as her little body would let her when she heard him screaming from the tack room because she thought he was in serious trouble,” is one of his favorite memories. He recalls that she wasn’t mad when it was only because he couldn’t get a saddle on right. “Unconditional love, that’s what she taught us. No matter what we might do, we all knew she loved us,” he added.
“Strong,” is the one word the whole family agrees on as a way to describe Marilyn. As a wife, a mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, friend; you could count on Marilyn to be strong. Strong willed, strong mentally, emotionally and even physically. Living with excruciating pain for years didn’t stop Marilyn from living her life to the fullest.
Johnny says they never went to bed angry at each other. She was the best cook and baker, the absolute best wife anyone could have. She took care of everything for everyone. Her family, her friends, the teachers she worked with and especially all the little children that had the chance to be in whatever classroom Mrs. Hardie was in.
Marilyn Joan Ward Hardie is proceeded in death by her parents Dora and Jim Ward and her brother Jimmy Canady.
She is survived by her husband, Johnny Hardie of the home; son Les and Dawn Hardie of Leland and Kathy Allen Hardie also of Leland; son David and Sheri Hardie of Conway, SC. Grandchildren include: Sarah Hardie Riewer and Garrett Riewer of Coeur d’ Alene, ID.; Kameryn Hardie Latusa(currently at sea with the U.S. Navy) and Kyle Latusa of Norfolk, VA.; and David Hardie and fiance Spencer Condon of Charleston, SC. Also, Elizabeth Anne Fonner and Tyler Wilson and great-grandchildren Autumn Swindell, Grayson Stamper and Tucker Wilson. Also surviving is sister Bea and Bob Fowler of Bedford, VA, and sister Billye Rose Best of Goldsboro, NC.
A visitation will be held from 1 to 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, February 7, 2023 at First Baptist Church of Leland, the funeral service will follow at 2:30 p.m. Interment will follow at the cemetery behind the church.