At 89, Rhoda Hardy of Boscawen will drive you if needed
|Published: 06-27-2023 6:50 PM
She spells her surname H-a-r-d-y, but H-e-a-r-t-y would work just as well.
At 89, she drives friends far younger than herself to doctor’s appointments and the grocery store. She chauffeurs four other senior women around, asking each what they would like to do on a particular day.
She helped build the food pantry in Boscawen, she lives alone, and until recently, she played the tracker action organ at her former church, Boscawen Congregational, mastering a NASA-like instrument panel and dozens of pipes of different heights, standing together like a city skyline.
“I loved playing,” said Rhoda Hardy, born, raised and still thriving in Boscawen. “I started playing there on the organ when I was 12, but I started playing piano when I was 4. That helped.”
Added longtime friend Lynn Colby. “I’ve known her my whole life, and she played that beautiful big organ and had to push in all the buttons. She has always been a prominent figure in Boscawen. She was the only person I have seen who played it. She knew how to get music from this organ.”
So impressed was Colby, in fact, that she nominated Hardy for the Monitor’s weekly Hometown Hero Series award.
Wrote Colby, “Besides being thoughtful and kind to others, Rhoda takes folks in the community who no longer drive for ice cream. There are several other heroic things Rhoda has done for our community, too many to mention here.”
Hardy is more Boscawen than most. She grew up on a farm, in a house once located off the back side of the home she lives in now. There’s a big white house there, a rebuilt version of the old homestead after a fire destroyed it nearly 70 years ago. Her son lives there with his wife and children and chickens.
She married Harold Hardy, who worked for Webster Valve for more than 30 years. He died in 2010, at the age of 78.
Rhoda worked in the printing business and public relations, saying, “I’d like to think that I know good customer service.”
It’s defined her for decades. Her list of volunteering and grass roots efforts is long. 4-H leader, Sunday school teacher, select board member, planing board member, cemetery trustee, caregiver and on and on.
“She can be visiting someone in the hospital, or she could be up the street helping someone who needs help,” explained Colby. “She’s always doing something. No one is more committed to this town than Rhoda.”
A lot of her work continues to touch members of the senior community. She sat in her living room with a new look – a short, stylish haircut, silky white hair – and remembered the volunteer work she’s done for the four women she’s responsible for as part of the Senior Companion program.
“It allows them to stay in their homes longer,” Hardy said.
She visits a woman who has not been out of her house for four years. “Sometimes,” Hardy said, “we just talk.”
She takes another woman grocery shopping, another to Kohls in Tilton, another to the bank, and still another to Wendy’s for chili and a baked potato. She’s also arranging to create a weekly game of rummy, but the women can’t agree on the rules, needing to do more research.
“This allows people to have outside contact,” Hardy said.
She used to pick up a tree surgeon, who suffered a stroke and “did not talk a lot,” Hardy said. “But he loved chocolate frosted donuts. We needed plenty of napkins.”
She spends three hours per day with each senior. Meanwhile, someone visits Hardy once a week for two hours each Thursday morning. Just a little help from a friend. She’s got four children, 12 grandchildren and 21 great great grandchildren.
And a pipeline to others that mutually benefits both parties.
“I enjoy my time with them as much as they enjoy their time with me,” Hardy said. “Maybe more so.”