Anna Henrietta Harding Was Oak Bluffs Resident
Anna Henrietta Harding, a long time resident of Oak Bluffs died on Tuesday, April 8. Anne, as she preferred to be called, first came to Martha's Vineyard in 1935, brought here by her husband, Bill Harding. The Hardings had once been whalers and were Islanders since the late 1600's. As Anne remembered it, the first encounter with this clan was somewhat daunting.
"All these Harding women were looking at me like, who's this girl? Well, in the end I outlasted them all," she began noting in recent years. Anne Harding was born July 15, 1915 in Coopersburg, Penn. The family moved to Bethlehem, when her father, Wellington Hartzell, started working for Bethlehem Steel. Anne attended Bethlehem High School and also graduated from Moravian College for Women. At Moravian, she majored in business, played field hockey, was the president of the secretaries club, and a member of the Alpha Epsilon Pi sorority. In her college yearbook, Anne's classmates describe her as, "a friendly, cheerful, and very talkative person." She was also given the titles of "class cut-up and instigator of fun."
While at Moravian College, Anne was set up on a blind date with a young man who attended Lehigh University, located just across the Lehigh River. Anne declined the first overture, but when the young man's fraternity brothers persisted she finally accepted. The man's name was Bill Harding and in February 2000, a few months before Bill died, he and Anne celebrated their 64th wedding anniversary.
After college, Bill went to work for Westinghouse. This was during the Depression years but Anne often referred to this time as the best in her life. "We didn't have much," she'd explain. "But what we had, we shared." It was also during this period that her two daughters, Gail and Joan, were born.
Eventually the family moved to Nutley, N.J. where they lived for the next 50 years. They also continued to spend summers on the Vineyard and in 1990 Anne and Bill moved into the family home on Pennacook Avenue full time. Each summer on the Island Anne played host to her daughter Joan, son-in-law Al Eville, and her five grandchildren. It was a large brood, but Anne, or Gram as everyone called her, managed to keep the home running smoothly.
Anne was an excellent cook and continued to host holiday dinner parties at her home well into her 80's. She was also an accomplished bridge player and was never without a deck of cards nearby.
In addition to her husband Bill, Anne is predeceased by her daughter Gail and her three brothers. She is survived by her daughter Joan and son-in-law Al of Watchung, N.J.; her five grandchildren; Beth Waller of Hamilton, N.J., Susan Balbach of Hyndman, Penn., James Eville of Readington, N.J., William Eville of Oak Bluffs, Ted Eville of Middlesex, N.J.; and seven great grandchildren. She will be remembered with love by all as a woman of character, strength, humor, and fierce loyalty to her family and friends.
A memorial service was held in Watchung at the time of her death. An additional memorial service will be held on Martha's Vineyard at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in her memory to Hospice of Martha's Vineyard, Box 2549, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557, or to Moravian College, 1200 Main street, Bethlehem, PA 18018.