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Mary Hardy

Mary Hardy 

by Stephen Reed 


As I look back on my 51 years at Northwood, my pick for the most beloved person ever to work on our staff would be Mary Hardy, our school nurse from 1977-2000. If the Guinness Book of World Records could quantify compassion, patience, and benevolence, she would be a contender for number one in every category.  

Now 86 years old, she joined me at Starbucks last week for coffee. Just back from a vacation in Florida, she spoke of the fun she’d had swimming, walking, and kayaking with her nephew. Post-retirement, Mary has found plenty of outlets for her energy and compassion. A skilled AMT, (very few knew that she was not actually a registered nurse) she worked with Lake Placid’s emergency medical services for a decade after leaving Northwood. When she is at home nowadays in Lake Placid, she enjoys hiking and snowshoeing. Numerous friends and relatives keep her busy as a host and guest. She noted that perhaps the best part of her retirement was the twenty years of time unfettered by work obligations she had with her husband, Bill, who passed away two years ago at the of 93. 

Many of her happiest memories are of her duties as the trainer for the hockey team. She had a great relationship with legendary coach, Tom Fleming, and took much pleasure in following the college and professional careers of Mike Richter, Tony Granato and others after they left Northwood.  

As we spoke, she complained about her memory, but she regaled me with stories of people and events for an hour. Every tale offered evidence her love of the kids and Northwood. She talked also of how well Headmaster John Friedlander treated her despite the occasional jokes he made during school meetings (he once said that when the diminutive Mary went missing as a pre-teen, her picture appeared not on a milk carton but a half pint of cream). However, he knew that, more than any faculty member, Mary had the students’ trust. They felt safe and comfortable confiding in her. Her care and understanding provided a lifeline for scores of our students.     

Mary earned the yearbook dedication twice. A couple of passages are worthy of inclusion here: 

1985 – Mary finds our best qualities even during our most traumatic experiences. Somehow, she brings sunshine into our lives and heals our wounds miraculously with merely a band-aid or one tablet of Vitamin C. 

 2000 –She is barely five feet tall, and as she runs down the hallway, she waves her key chain in the air for balance. Waiting at her office is a throng of students, some in pajamas, others in baggy sweats, all with that “I don’t want to go to school look” on their faces. She sticks her little flashlight into the mouth of a senior boy, her hand pressing his forehead while she gazes at his throat. “Go to class, hon, you don’t have a temperature.” The other kids in line knew he was faking all along, and there are a few furtive grins as he shuffles past and out the door. “Go right to bed, hon,” she tells an ashen-faced- girl, “and stay away from the other kids.” To a third she says, “Take two Tylenol and try to make it to second period. I’ll write you a note.” Hers is a mother’s face, eyes wrinkled from a lifetime of loving smiles. Last in line is a freshman with watery eyes, staring at the floor. She waits until others have turned the corner and are out of sight. She takes his wrist and closes the door behind them.” 

Mary, it is never too late to remind you how much your colleagues and students loved you.