Virginia H. HardestyVirginia H. HardestyVirginia Hallett Hardesty, "Ginna" of Ithaca, NY, passed peacefully in her home Sunday, October 5th, 2014 at age 86. 

Born August 5th, 1928 in Rochester, NY, she was the daughter of Walter Wellington Hallett and Helen Coleman Durham.  She was raised in Ithaca, and Rochester, NY, was a Cornell alum, and raised her own family here, in Varna and Ellis Hollow.

Like many in the Depression years, Ginna's childhood family relocated often for work, until her father's early passing.  An only child, Ginna was blessed with a wealth of cousins. While her mother traveled for WPA, she shared quarters with them, alternating between the Rochester home of the Halletts and Galbraiths, and the Ithaca home of her grandparents, Cornell Professor Charles Love Durham and Jean Glendinning Durham.  Her mother remarried Erwin J. McGuire, and the family settled in Rochester, where Ginna completed primary and secondary school in Brighton, then attended Cornell, graduating in 1949 with a double major in nutrition and textile/design.

During college Ginna was married to Henry L. Clark, and her first daughter, Virginia Leigh was born. She and Hank shared a love of old cars—early model Fords required ‘double-clutching’, she would remind her kids later in life—and among her many life accomplishments, winning the ‘Powder Puff Derby’ came right near the top.

Ginna was a ‘single working mom’ at GLF (Agway) in the early '50's, working alongside lifelong friend Virginia Bizzell.  She remarried, and their husbands teamed up to form a first family venture, Bizzell & Hardesty trucking & excavation.  As her family grew, Ginna helped late husband Loren Bertram Hardesty with the family construction and land-development business.  Antiquing was an avocation; many came to know her from her years buying and selling for Rose Ocello at the Antique House in downtown Ithaca. She dedicated free time to volunteer work, which over the years ran the gamut from leading a girl scout troop, to assisting her onetime parish priest and lifelong friend Fr. Lancelot Pereira, SJ acquire lab instruments for his Catholic college back in India, to providing alum guidance to Pi Phi sorority during house renovations. 

Ginna had a passion for wordplay, whether the New York Times crossword puzzle over Sunday coffee with her late partner, John E. Payne, a book of double acrostics at Ellis Landing beach, or verbal swordplay with relatives at cocktail hour.  Sharing her clans' zeal for family history, she regaled with stories that went back four or five generations, extending sideways to fourth and fifth cousins.  Ginna studied piano when young, sang with Sage Chapel Choir, and her soprano could be heard on '40's Cornell campus radio doing jazz solos.  She passed along her love of music in various ways, most poignantly through her daughter Virginia's (Leigh's) family and her late grandson George Richard Bucci.  A language-lover as well, she was a longtime member of her friend Gertrud Vrabel's German conversation circle at the Senior Center.

A progressive and unconventional soul, Ginna took people as she found them, and raised her children to be world citizens, understanding that there is good in all people regardless of their circumstances.  Many were touched by her generous and loving nature.

The family would like to acknowledge the many years of service, support and companionship of Claudia Georgia, and more recently by the fine folks at Classen Home Health Associates and Hospicare.

Ginna is survived by her four children; Virginia Leigh Bucci [Richard] of Westfield, NJ; James Loren Hardesty [Amanda Ball] of North Yarmouth, ME; Martha Marie Hardesty [Joann Edwards] of Trumansburg, NY; and John Durham Hallett Hardesty [Tara] of San Francisco, CA.  She is also survived by 9 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren.

A Celebration of Virginia’s Life, open to all her family and friends, will be held at 1:00pm on Saturday, May 9, 2015 at Joe’s Restaurant, 602 W. Buffalo Street, Ithaca.

In lieu of any flowers, please make donations in Virginia’s name to Hospice at 172 East King Road, Ithaca, NY 14850.