Roger Eric Hard, 56, died on New Year's Eve, December 31, 2012, at Kindred Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Hanover, N.H., after a three-year battle with cancer.
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Born on November 21, 1956, in Dayton, Ohio, Roger was the eldest son of Roger (Ernest) and Kathryn Hard.
Roger graduated as class valedictorian from Northfield High School in Northfield, Vt., In 1974. He attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., and graduated (1978) from RPI, as did his father, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering. Roger was a member of Kappa Delta Pi, the International Education Honor Society.
Roger was commissioned as a 2nd Lt. (1978) and served active duty in the Air Force in California, Texas and Massachusetts before entering the Air Force Reserve. Roger retired from the Air Force (1995) as a Captain, as did his father a quarter-century earlier. While he was in the Air Force, Roger worked on technically complex systems that led to him training high-level military personnel in the use of the MILSTAR secure military communications satellite system. Following his Air Force career, Roger took employment with several defense firms in the private sector, most in the greater Boston area.
In his late 40s, Roger returned to Vermont to teach math and science to middle school and high school students while working toward a Master's Degree in Education. Roger taught at Killington Mountain School, Mount St. Joseph Academy, Upward Bound Program at Castleton State College, Poultney Junior High School, Fair Haven Union High School, and in the Rutland and Proctor school systems. He also was camp counselor at Camp Daybreak for kids needing special emotional support.
While comfortable and adept in highly technical and academic fields, Roger was also a talented comedic performer. At a young age, Roger immersed himself in the burgeoning stream of modern electronic media and comedy and dreamed of perhaps someday having a career in music, comedy, or film.
Roger's family left California's bustling San Francisco Bay Area in the late 1960s when his father left the private defense industry and took a teaching job at Norwich University in Northfield, Vt.
Despite his far distance from the media centers of the nation, Roger pursued his dream of performing in media. As a pre-teen, Roger was a huge fan of "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In," an irreverent, sketch comedy show on prime-time TV that debuted in 1968 and featured many guest comedians. In high school, Roger became a fan of MAD Magazine. He and pal Tim Sickles (another recent transplant to Vermont) for years created their own hand-drawn, satire-rich periodical, "Sick-Hard News," for the enjoyment of friends and family, using a cartoon style to poke fun at their own travails and exploits in rural Vermont.
Roger first took to the airwaves as a teen hosting music shifts on Norwich University's fledging radio station, WNUB. Roger kept dipping his feet in radio most of his life. He co-hosted the comedy show, "The Sanforized Hour," and took music shifts at his college radio station, WRPI. After his Air Force career, he took jobs as a radio host at several stations in New England, including WRNX in Amherst, Mass. and 105.1 The Peak in Killington, Vt. Even when it was a sideline to his technical engineering career, Roger took opportunities to perform with comedy groups, and even tried his hand at stand-up comedy. He was a popular comedic actor and one of the founding cast members of ImprovBoston, which has been the center of Boston's improvisational comedy scene since 1982. Roger delighted audiences in Boston with his ability to take on, with ease, many zany personalities in one evening of improvisational skit comedy. He was skilled at impersonating many famous personalities.
Roger took an interest in stage and film, as well. He wrote plays for stage and screen, one of which, "The Other Me," earned honorable mention in a national screenplay competition. He also wrote, produced, and filmed his own original short film, "The Arb," a reflective piece about strangers of different generations meeting in an arboretum and sharing stories of growth and change.
Roger rarely missed sending out cards (often humorous) to friends and relatives on birthdays or anniversaries. He was a year-round gift shopper, and looked forward to Christmas for many months, always taking great care in selecting and presenting his gifts to others.
Roger was a director of the Christian Energy Mission, founded in part by his father, a nonprofit based in Tunbridge that focuses on Christian counseling and earth stewardship through design, development, and teaching in the areas of natural resources, appropriate technology, alternative energy, and energy efficiency.
Roger is survived by his son, Matthew Cronin, 23, of Haverhill, Mass., by his parents, Roger and Kathryn, now of Tunbridge, Vt., and by his brothers Christopher Hard, 53, of Randolph Center, Vt. and Stefan Hard, 47, of Washington, Vt.
Memorial services will be scheduled sometime this spring or summer in Northfield, Vt.
The family wishes memorial contributions to be made to any of the following nonprofit organizations: The Colon Cancer Foundation (www.coloncancerfoundation.org), Bayada Hospice (www.bayada.com), The Christian Energy Mission, 34 Whalen Rd, Randolph Center, Vt. 05061, and ImprovBoston (www.improvboston.com).
Published in Rutland Herald on Feb. 3, 2013