NEW HAVEN, CONN. - Dr. Sandra E. Hardy passed away on June 19, 2014 in New Haven, CT, from an unexpected complication following a successful heart procedure. Sandra was born Nov. 12, 1937, to Edward Hardy and Vera Spong Hardy of Wilton, CT.
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Sandra was a busy child and teenager; she was a gifted musician and hosted her own radio show on WNLK in Norwalk, CT, she had a part time job as a CALLER for Square Dances, and she was a successful multi sport athlete. Sandra earned her B.A. in English at Central CT U at age 21 while she worked as a professional entertainer with a trio know as the Moodmakers. She also studied at the Julius Hartt School of Music in Hartford, CT. In the turbulent 1960 s, Sandra was a teacher at Central High School in Bridgeport, CT. She integrated a very racially and economically diverse body of students in theatre and musical theatre productions. Following the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., this high school stood out as a place where racial tensions and unrest did not disrupt the educational process. Sandra received a special Commendation from the NAACP for her role as an educator in racial equality.
Sandra went on to earn an M.A. with Honors in American Studies at Fairfield University, and then earned her Ph.D. with honors in Theatre at New York University. While in N.Y., she directed several equity-approved theatre showcases, and studied at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in N.Y.C. Sandra was hired at Augustana College in Rock Island, IL as an assistant theatre professor; she was so successful in recruiting students to her classes and productions that a brand new theatre major was accepted by this College. Sandra became the department chairman. In 1987, Sandra was hired at UMO as an associate professor in its theatre department. Sandra taught various theatre courses but quickly became known as the acting specialist. In subsequent years, she was invited to teach in the University's Honors College/Program courses, and additionally became a thesis advisor to some of those students. Prior to Sandra's arrival, women theatre faculty members designed costumes, make up, and assisted directors, but Sandra was the first full time female faculty member who actually was the director of main stage theatre productions. Sandra directed over 30 productions; the specific details are on the UMO website, and in fact many were reviewed in this paper. Sandra also wrote scholarly articles that were published in the academic journals, and she was widely known as a Henrick Ibsen scholar; her own translation of Hedda Gabler has been published and performed on stage.
However, Sandra's top priority was the education of her students. She always considered first what was best for them even at her own professional expense. Sandra was a superb teacher, a forceful advocate, a savvy advisor, and a caring mentor. Thousands of students have already expressed their appreciation of her on a private Facebook page as well as in e mails/ calls/texts to her family.
Sandra had many, many hobbies and interests including gardening, antiques, unique collections, and decorating; she had a fulfilling family life in her roles as a mother, partner, sister, aunt, and great aunt.
Sandra is survived in Maine by her wonderful and loving daughter, Jade Hardy Baumrind; her longtime partner, Joanne, and her dog, Sofie the Vizsla. In CT, FL, and Texas, Sandra is survived by a loving extended family including her four siblings, Ingrid, Edward, Signe, and Kari (and respective spouses); many nieces and nephews and great nieces and great nephews. She had a particularly close relationship with niece, Tina Gilbertie who did so much for her over these last 6 months; additionally, Shannan Hardy, Kia Hardy, and Amy Gilbertie were so generous with their time and energy in the final week of Sandra's life.
A family memorial was held for Sandra at her sister's home in Westport, CT on June 22. A Celebration of Sandra's Life will be held in the Bangor area later this summer; details as to time and place will be released next week; and as those of you who knew her will remember, Sandra did not tolerate empty seats! Meanwhile, if you wish to remember her or honor her in any way, a scholarship fund has been set up at UMO. It is called the Sandra E. Hardy Theatre Scholarship Fund. Details can be found online at umainefoundation.org Checks are made payable to the University of Maine Foundation directed to this specific fund, and sent to Two Alumni Place, Orono, ME 04469-5792.
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Published in BDN Maine on June 24, 2014