IRVINGTON, Va. - Rappahannock Westminster-Canterbury resident Carol Wright Hardy is a modest woman for all of her significant accomplishments and accolades, calling herself a "very mediocre musician." Yet Hardy has been immersed in the world of music and community activism for more than half a century. This April, she will receive the prestigious Olde Guarde Distinguished Service Award from the College of William and Mary, where she graduated from 69 years ago.
The award recognizes an individual whose class graduated a minimum of 50 years ago. It is an alumni recognition award for dedication, involvement and continued service to the College as well as lifetime achievement.
And it's not even the most prestigious award at William and Mary. "The Alumni Medallion is the biggest award you can get," Hardy said. "Three people are chosen for that each year."
She received the top honor in 2003 and is in good company. Actresses Linda Lavin and Glenn Close received it in 1984 and 1993 respectively. Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and former Republican chairman of the Federal Communications Commission Michael Powell also are recipients.
The Medallion has been awarded since 1934 and is given to alumni for their professional accomplishments, leadership and dedication to the community and commitment to their alma mater.
And that's not all. In 1999, she received the Distinguished Service Award given locally by the Society of the Alumni and the Lower Northern Neck Chapter of the College of William and Mary. But the most fun, she says, was serving as the 2010 William and Mary Homecoming Grand Marshal.
She told the William and Mary alumni magazine at the time, "I still can't believe it. I was shocked because I have served on the alumni service committee, the Alumni Association Board of Directors and I know what goes into that sort of decision. I just never expected it."
Hardy received her Bachelor of Arts degree in music from William and Mary and her Master's in education from the University of Connecticut. She taught high school music in Atlanta, elementary music in Lake Bluff, Ill., and middle school in Storrs, Ct. She directed church choirs in those same communities. She also directed the choir for the Fatima pilgrims in Portugal and Spain. Her 45-member boys Schola Cantorum performed in the Atlanta Cathedral choir loft for the first Catholic mass in English.
She remains a guiding force for musical programs at RWC and in the community. She directed a choir for special Masses and Rosaries in honor of Our Lady of Fatima at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church in Kilmarnock and is a past director of The Bay Tones men's barbershop chorus. She initiated and directed the floating theatre show Steamboatin' for the Steamboat Era Museum in Irvington.
Since moving to RWC three years ago, she has written, produced and directed "The History of Christmas Carols" in December and RWC's "Patriotic Program" in July.
"The Christmas program is different every year, Hardy said. "The patriotic program has set parts that are always same. The 1776 group comes in to 'Yankee Doodle Dandy,' then we play, 'America the Beautiful.' In the middle, we add the fun stuff. We always end with a tribute to the Armed Forces with a medley of all of the military songs and end with 'God Bless America'. I seem to still be able to do this even at my age, so I'll keep doing it as long as people have fun and it gives them a purpose in life. That's all that matters."
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