The message on her telephone answering machine and the closing for her letters, columns and e-mails was always the same: Savor the moment, she said.
Della Louise Brown Hardman, artist, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, teacher and columnist for the Vineyard Gazette, died suddenly on Dec. 13, 2005, at the age of 83. The Vineyard community in general and the Oak Bluffs community in particular mourned the loss of the artist and educator who had enriched so many lives.
Last year the town of Oak Bluffs proclaimed July 29, 2005, as Della Hardman Day, coinciding with a three-day tribute planned in her honor by former West Virginia State College (now university) art students. At the time Mrs. Hardman was characteristically overwhelmed at the honor bestowed upon her.
This year, on Saturday, July 29, the town of Oak Bluffs and the Oak Bluffs Public Library are cooperating with the family to celebrate her memory with a tribute at the Tabernacle in Trinity Park, followed by an exhibition of her art work at the library and a reception.
Called a celebration of Della in her own words, the event will include readings of poetry and other written work by Mrs. Hardman. The public is invited to attend this special occasion where town officials and the family of the late Mrs. Hardman are also expected to make two important announcements about future activities. Those attending are invited to bring letters, e-mails or other correspondence from Mrs. Hardman that they would like to share for the establishment of an archive. The program at the Tabernacle, which is located a few blocks from the Oak Bluffs ferry, will begin at 2 p.m., followed at 3:30 by the art exhibit and reception at the library nearby on School street. The program of events will include a performance by the NAACP spiritual choir and by the Derrick Ashong trio. Charlayne Hunter Gault will be the mistress of ceremonies.
Mrs. Hardman was a library trustee and an active member of the building committee for their new facility that opened last September. The art exhibit at the library is already up.