Vena Lee Hardesty
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August 20, 1927
May 1, 2013
Vena Lee Hardesty joined her Lord and Savior on May 1, 2013, following a courageous battle with cancer.
Vena Lee was born August 20, 1927, in Flint, Michigan to James and Leta Gillespie. She was the oldest of three girls all of whom were raised in Clare, Michigan. Inspired by her family's love for music and her father's playing of the concertina, Vena Lee learned to play the piano at a young age. She began a life long dedication of service to others when she and her father would entertain injured troops and perform at events to raise funds for war bonds during World War II. Following graduation from high school, Vena Lee attended Michigan State University becoming a life long Spartan fan.
During a break from school, Vena Lee met and later married Manford I. (Bud) Hardesty on June 17, 1947. They established their home in Reno where they both continued their education at the University of Nevada and worked with Bud's father, E. W. Hardesty, in the construction company named Hardesty and Son. The company built numerous homes, schools and commercial buildings, including the Celebrity Room at John Ascuaga's Nugget. In 1966, Vena Lee and Bud moved to Walnut Creek, California, were they built more than 300 homes and 120 condominiums. Vena Lee was responsible for all of the interior design of the residences. They returned to Reno in 1976 to manage the Sierra Oddfellows Rest Home. Vena Lee completed her career working in the Building Department for the City of Reno.
Vena Lee's passion for music continued her entire life. She and Bud, a nationally recognized baritone singer, became quite a team performing in New York, Chicago and San Francisco. They were regular members of the choir for the First United Methodist Church, the UNR chorus, Voices Unlimited, the Twentieth Century Club and on a few occasions the annual Sheep Dip. In addition to her musical pursuits, Vena Lee was a huge fan of the San Francisco Giants and UNR football.
Vena Lee's service to others was frequently on display in her many contributions to the First United Methodist Church and her membership in the Order of Eastern Star, Nevada Chapter No. 13; Ammon-Ra Temple No. 56, Daughters of the Nile and the Reno Lions Clubs Auxiliary.
Vena Lee will long be remembered for her love of family and joy for life. Her optimism, cheerful smile and soft hands touched the hearts and souls of every member of her family. She took the time to love you and provided guidance, inspiration and advice to each of us that will never be forgotten. Her parents and Bud preceded her in death and she is survived by her sisters Margaret Robinson and Sally Murphy; her sons James Hardesty (Sandy) and Jerry Hardesty (Eila); her daughter Sherry Lee Heavrin (Paul); her grandchildren Kristy Grow, Robin Johnson, Rodney Hardesty, Katie Christ, Emily and Ericka Heavrin; and 10 great grandchildren. The family would like to thank the owners and staff of The Fountains senior care facility and the physicians, nurses and staff of Renown Medical and Life Care Center for their compassionate care of our mom.
A celebration of Vena Lee's life will be held on Wednesday, May 15 at 4pm at the First United Methodist Church, 209 W. First Street. Validated parking will be provided in the Sierra Parking Gallery parking garage. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the First United Methodist Church.
Published in Reno Gazette-Journal from May 12 to May 13, 2013