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Mary Elizabeth Hardesty, 93

January 31, 1929 – March 4, 2022

A Beloved Gem of the Montgomery Township Community


Mary Elizabeth "Tat" Hardesty
Mary Elizabeth "Tat" Hardesty

Mary Elizabeth "Tat" Hardesty died at her Montgomery Township home of heart disease on March 4, following COVID exposure. She was 93.


Born in Loveland, Ohio on January 31, 1929 to Rogers Randolph and Loura (Leer) Early, she was nicknamed "Tat." She grew up on the family's Miami Dairy farm, and retained lifelong affection for her parents’ Bluegrass, Kentucky kin.


A 1947 graduate of Milford, Ohio High School, she remained active in their alumni association and was in 2015 honored by Milford Schools Foundation. She was President of Kappa Chapter, Sigma Sigma Sigma social sorority, at 1951 graduation from Miami University at Oxford, Ohio.


Miss Early was teaching at Cincinnati’s Linwood Elementary School before marrying Raymond Dale ‘Dusty’ Hardesty in 1955. The Hardestys relocated to New Jersey the following year when Johnson and Johnson hired him to lead their New Products division.


In 1958 the couple collaborated in design and construction of a unique home in the Belle Mead section of Montgomery township. She enjoyed recounting how locals in the farming community referred to the couple as “the new people” for several years.


Mrs. Hardesty was an active member of the Griggstown Volunteer Fire Company Ladies Auxiliary from 1958, and a Montgomery Township Parent Teacher Association officer in the early 1960s. In 1966 the Hardestys were among seven families establishing Montgomery United Methodist Church.


As president of the Montgomery Unit of the Princeton League of Women Voters (1966-1969), Mrs. Hardesty – a life-long Democrat – advocated increased local school funding, oversaw launch of a “Know Your Township” civic guide, and commissioned year-long study of water resources.


The Hardestys partnered in FashionAble in 1971, fulfilling – from a Rocky Hill warehouse – the household and apparel needs of physically challenged persons seeking independent lifestyle. Mrs. Hardesty survived her husband in 1977 and assumed sole responsibility for the catalog-based firm featuring several locally produced products.


Following her 1984 retirement, she launched the Hardesty Foundation and engaged in philanthropy favoring education and the environment. She became active in The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America, serving 2010-2012 on the Board of Regents for Gunston Hall Plantation at Mason Neck, Virginia.


She was a member of the Nassau Club at Princeton and became a nationally ranked duplicate bridge competitor. She was an avid reader of The Montgomery News.


Grandson Luke Turner attended to her comfort in the final years of her illness. Her two children Roger David Hardesty and Loura Dale Turner survive her, as do six other grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.


Rev. Chris Heitkamp will officiate funeral services at Harlingen Church, Belle Mead, at 11:30 am on Saturday, March 12 . Grandson Mark Turner will deliver a eulogy. Visitation begins at 10:30 am. Reception follows.


Remains will be interred at Greenlawn Cemetery, Milford, Ohio. Memorial donors are directed to the Sourland Conservancy, Hopewell.


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