Edward Clark Hardy, the 20-year chief operating officer and president of the Yosemite Park & Curry Co. and a leader in California tourism, passed away in his sleep on Jan. 7, 2018., at the age of 83.
Edward Clark Hardy was born Nov. 8, 1934, in Palo Alto, California to Edward Everett Hardy and Dorothea Clark Hardy a lawyer/judge and a school teacher respectively, both graduates of Stanford University.
As a child Ed spent all the time he could in or around water. He was an Olympic caliber swimmer who held a world record in the 1,000 meter Individual Medley that is no longer offered. He was slated to compete in the Olympic Trials for the 1956 Olympics, but the passing of Judge Hardy prevented him from participating.
While at the pool he also loved water polo and competed in that well into his 20s. When not in the water his other love was to be on the water sailing. Throughout his life he continued to swim and sail.
Upon graduation from Palo Alto High, Ed attended Colorado State University on a basketball scholarship. He lasted 2 years in Colorado then enlisted into the US Marine Corps and shipped out to Korea where he earned a Purple Heart. He returned home to wife Jackie and finished his BA in Education at San Jose State. He taught PE and the physically handicapped, and coached swimming and water polo.
Their first child came along in 1958, daughter Laura Paula “Polly” in 1960 - followered by son Clark in 1962. In addition to teaching he sold insurance to support his young family. His first paid coaching job away from teaching was at Del Webb’s brand new Almaden Country Club in San Jose. He literally worked his way up in that organization from the pool to General Manager of the country club.
In 1969 he received an offer he could not refuse from the Los Angeles Athletic Club to manage the elite Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades. So he and Jackie packed up their young family, including a Shetland pony, and moved to Malibu in Serra Canyon. Then in 1970 the Malibu Fire wiped out their home. While staying in a neighbor’s home only months after the fire came the Sylmar Earthquake and they witnessed 6-foot waves coming out of the backyard swimming pool.
The disaster trifecta came in the form of mudslides where several of the homes that were not burned ended up with 3-feet of mud inside. They would not be deterred and rebuilt on their property and lived there until 1973.
In the fall of 1973 Ed’s resume divinely ended up in the right hands at MCA-Universal and he was selected to be the Chief Operating Officer of the newly acquired Yosemite Park & Curry Company. So the Hardy family started 1974 as residents of Yosemite Valley, horses and all.
Ed, spent 20 years with the concessionaire of Yosemite National Park, the majority as President/COO.
There are numerous accomplishments he achieved, an example being the implementation of the 5¢ refund on aluminum cans and bottles. The first such recycling program in any National Park, and so successful it was later adopted by the State of California.
The ‘First Couple’ of Yosemite, Ed and Jackie, hosted dignitaries from all over the world. Most notably the Queen of England and her husband Prince Philip who dined with them at The Ahwahnee in 1983. Official guests from Asia always brought them gifts of curry, which was perplexing to them until they put it together that it was an interpretation of Curry Company.
It was always a goal of Ed’s to be a good steward of Yosemite. He lived and demonstrated this continually. For instance, it was impossible for him to walk by litter - he had to stop and pick it up. He “commuted” to work on his bicycle. He learned the names of as many of the employees as possible and strictly enforced the wearing of name tags because he believed it brought out the accountability in everyone and put the employees and guests on a first name basis.
If there was raking, or sweeping, or shoveling to be done he’d roll up his sleeves and get busy. These qualities, as well as a great sense of humor, fostered great love and respect from the people who worked for him, and they worked hard to please him well after his tenure ended.
In 1993 when MCA-Universal was being sold to Matsushita of Japan, there was public outcry about foreign ownership of assets in a National Park. Ultimately, MCA-Universal was forced to sell the Curry Co. and the winning bidder was Delaware North. DNC didn’t believe Ed matched their management goals and he was cut loose. This came as quite a blow to Ed.
Seeing Ed’s sudden availability as an opportunity Rupert Murdoch swooped in and offered Ed the position as President of the Lana’i Company on the island of Lana’i in Hawaii. So Ed moved to Hawaii for 1994 and 1995. On Lana’i he was back in the country club business over two very elite luxury resorts with golf courses, fine dining restaurants and the housing developments associated with them.
He accomplished in two years what was expected to take five and returned home to Bass Lake where he completed construction of the Bass Lake Lodge, the 10,000 square-foot home is built from wood from the Hardys’ ranch called Hazel Green located near the Highway 120 west entrance to Yosemite. Hazel Green had been hit hard by a bug infestation and the trees were harvested and milled into lumber on the ranch and transported to Bass Lake.
With Bass Lake his permanent residence, Ed joined the Oakhurst Seventh Day Adventist Church where he met Janet. They married at the Bass Lake Lodge in 1998. He loved the church and sponsored the floral arrangements for many years.
Ed was a permanent resident of Eastern Madera County since 1995.
During his retirement Ed participated on many boards. While on the board for the Mining and Mineral Museum in Mariposa Ed used his contacts and influence with the state to have the Museum recognized as a California State Park. He was also a Trustee on the UC Merced Foundation contributing to the creation and running of the 10th UC campus and the only one in the central valley.
In 2003 Ed and Janet were in a terrible head-on accident while traveling in Pennsylvania. Ed was in the hospital there for a couple of weeks for head and internal organ injuries. He did recover, but was not quite the same afterward.
The Ed Hardy everyone knew when asked “How are you?” would answer “Strong and eager!” He’ll always be remembered for his firm handshake, for looking you in the eye, for his bright smile, and is renowned for being “larger than life” and is still thought of fondly as Big Ed.
Ed was preceded in death by his parents Edward E and Dorothea C Hardy, his sister Mary Ella “Honey” Powell, granddaughter Alana Paige Bremel, and mother of his children Jackie Hardy.
He is survived by his widow Janet Hardy; daughter Laura Norman (children Heather, Craig and Daphne); daughter Polly and Dave Bremel (daughter Amarie); son Clark Hardy (children Camille, Dorothea “Thea,” Gordon and Emma); and step daughters Jennifer & Shane Lyster (6 children); and Lorie and Dave Coy (2 children); sister Janer Wilford of Washington; foster brother Tor Hanson of Palo Alto; and several nieces and nephews. All of whom he loved dearly.
A Memorial Service will be held on Sunday April 8, 2018, at 10 a.m. Bass Lake in the The Pines Conference Center. In lieu of flowers the family asks that contributions be made in Ed’s memory to any of these non-profits: Yosemite Natural Wonders (filming a documentary about Ed and Yosemite), Yosemite-Wawona Educational Foundation (Wawona School), and the California State Mining and Mineral Museum Association.