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Beatrice Louise Harding

Obituary of Beatrice Louise Harding

Beatrice Louise (Lewis) Harding Beatrice (Bea) Harding died at Reginas Grace Hospice on March 22, 06 after a long, tiring struggle with pneumonia. She was nearing her 93rd birthday and had an adventurous, challenging and absorbing life. Born on a farm near Morden, Manitoba in May 1913, Bea came from a long line of Irish and Welsh who immigrated first to Ontario and Quebec and then to Manitoba. She was raised in a war-torn family, losing her father and both brothers during the two world wars. She was among the first generation of prairie women to attend university, earning a Bachelor of Science in Home Economics from the University of Manitoba in the mid-30s. She carried the resourcefulness shaped by her early rural life and this profession, into all her life activities - as homemaker, teacher, artist, writer and grandmother. After marrying Bill Harding, Bea moved to Saskatchewan, which remained her home base for life. She was active in community-building activities during the hard Depression years, and supported the CCFs pursuit of social and economic justice. She and Bill worked as a team whether living at the Experimental Farm in Swift Current, raising their two children in Calgary and Regina, or on UN missions. As a high school teacher at Reginas Central Collegiate in the 1950s Bea influenced a generation of students. With husband Bill, Bea was a pioneer of Medicare and held membership No. 1 at Reginas Community Health Clinic. Open to adventure Bea set out in mid-life to travel the globe with Bill, who worked for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). She lived and studied on four continents - in Liberia, West Africa; Guyana, South America; Somalia, East Africa; Philippines and New York - from 1961-75. Always creative with her hands, Bea was a skilled seamstress and a passionate baker, and explored pottery, jewelry making and welding-sculpture. Her travels transformed her into a visual artist, first in photography and film, and after the Philippines, specializing in printmaking. As a young woman she had dreamt of going to New York to study fashion design. Not to be outdone by her dreams, she ended up a mature woman studying printmaking at New York Art Students League at the Pratt Institute. Beas creative activism continued into her retirement years. Upon her return to Regina in the mid-70s she enrolled in the University of Regina, where she became the only senior citizen of her class to earn a Bachelor in Fine Arts. Over recent decades she created hundreds of prints in her basement studio, held several art showings at such places as Reginas Norman McKenzie, Assiniboia and Rosemont Galleries and the Carnegie Gallery in Ontario, and participated in numerous artists co-ops. Bea described her own prints as "images, both realistic and abstract, that relate to the environmental spaces around her and to the global images beyond. Her print-making press was donated to Reginas Flatlands Artist Co-op. Bea was a collector of artifacts from all regions she travelled. Every nook and cranny in her home showcased or stored her work and collections. Bea received a Saskatchewan Centennial Medal for her work in the Arts community. Her artists files are housed in the University of Regina archives. Beas creative urge seemed endless, as she also published three books: one on her mentor Manuel Rodriguez, the father of Philippine printmaking (Survival Through Art); a second, written after husband Bills death, on their experiences in Liberia (Top Hats and Head Loads); and an autobiography (Around the World in Eighty Years) that she completed at the age of 90. Bea was stridently independent to the end. She lived in her own home until the age of 92, with the help of family and homecare. She resided in a seniors apartment with the help of Wintergreen staff until she was hospitalized a few weeks before her death. She died surrounded by the love of her extended family and dear friends, in the care and comfort provided by the staff and volunteers at Grace Hospice, to whom the family will always be deeply grateful. Her husband Bill, parents David and Margaret Lewis, brothers Jim and Earl, sister Marion and most of her close friends predeceased Bea. She is survived by son Jim Harding and daughter Ruth Pickering, daughter- in-law Janet Stoody of Fort QuAppelle; son-in-law Richard Pickering of Dundas, ON; grandchildren Reece Harding of Port Moody, BC, Michael Pickering of Atlanta, Georgia, Ann McCarrol of Clifton Park, New York, Joel Stoody-Harding of Vancouver and Dagan Stoody-Harding of Regina; great grandchildren Danae, Shayla, Rielle and Ryan, and many nieces and nephews. Special thanks to Patty Harding, Curtis Evenson, Nicole Hoyer, Rachael Janze and friends Dorothy Lee and John Trew for staying connected with Bea until the end. All our lives were touched by Beas astonishing accomplishments. We will remember her enthusiastic quips at her 90th birthday party, and will miss her quick wit, irrepressible nature, critical attention to world events, and her role as "matriarch dispatcher of breaking news of the far-flung familys goings-on. Donations in Bea Hardings memory to Regina Unitarian Fellowship Endowment Fund. A celebratory wake for extended family and friends will be held at the family home, at 2230 Smith Street, on Saturday, March 25 from 4:00 - 8:00 p.m. A Unitarian and Family memorial to be held in the summer will be announced at a later date. An on-line book of condolences may be signed at
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