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Mary Jane Harding

January 12, 1934 - April 5, 2021

Mary Jane Harding

Born January 12, 1934

Died April 5, 2021

Life partner, mother, sister, friend, educator, musician, farmer, philanthropist

Mary created a meaningful life for her family, friends and the unique community connections she fostered. She was purposeful, planned and passionate in every way. Whether it was singing in choirs, teaching talented vocalists, developing outreach projects at the church, or making jars of jam, Mary was an ever-present contributor to the lives of others.

Her spirit for adventure was fostered with her parents at a very young age. The treasured trips began as a young teen up to their cherished Valhalla Island on Muskoka Lake. This infectious love of nature, outdoor activities and the spirit of living life fully is part of her legacy, which has rippled outwards to her children and grandchildren.

Mary continued her zest for life with her husband, Paul, for over sixty years. As the ultimate life companion, Mary traveled and lived in England with their three very young children for a few years during Paul’s further study. She was a foundation of support in Paul’s professional life and they enjoyed creating memories together all across Canada and in many places abroad.

As a graduate of Macdonald Institute (University of Guelph) in 1956, Mary was an impressive educator with diverse interests, ranging from nutrition to sailing. After raising four children, she studied with the Royal Conservatory of Music and became an experienced and highly sought-after vocal coach and teacher. This endeavour also coincided with her key contribution at Boview Farm with numerous animals and outstanding gardens. Mary embraced self-sufficiency before it was in vogue and was proud to host many magnificent meals with eclectic guests for over forty years. The dishes were delightful and set alongside the beautiful flowers from her gardens.

Mary was a generous supporter of the arts, of education for many recipients, and of the mission at Dundas Street Centre United Church. There, she was a powerful presence and helped with the church’s evolution in becoming integral to London’s downtown core. Her diversity of interests was pronounced and she was equally comfortable at the theatre, at university events or at Boview farm wearing rubber boots.

Although smaller in stature, Mary was mighty in personality. She was willing to be present and share her thoughts openly in conversation, was fully committed to her dear people and noble pursuits, and was quick to enjoy a good hearty laugh. She is predeceased by her husband Paul, her parents David and Nellie and sister-in-law, Diana. She is survived by her brother John, sister Elizabeth-Ann (Ray), four children and their partners Martha, David (Karen), John (Beverley), Tom (Kara), and special cousins Lorna (Ernie) and Joanne, eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

The family are deeply grateful for the exceptional care provided by Mary’s support system at Strathmere Lodge in Strathroy, Ontario. A Celebration of Life is planned for a future date. As a tribute to her interests in education and agriculture, please consider a donation to the Mary Jane Harding Fund, Alumni House, University of Guelph. A direct link has been provided to the left of the obituary.

Cremation and a private family honouring have taken place.

To leave an online condolence for the family, please click the Tribute Wall to the left of the obituary.

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We're sending our love & condolences to the entire Harding family, Jim & Diana

~ Jim Whaley

Deepest sympathies to the family of a beloved friend and classmate. A life well lived sincerely M

~ Margot magee

Remembering Mary as a dear friend who will be remembered with love in our hearts. God Bless.

~ Carolyn M Armstrong

Love from Ann-Marie, Jami Lyn & P.J

~ Ann-Marie Patkus

Dear Martha and John, Jane and I have many fond memories of your mother and father over the years.

~ Paul and Jane Morris

Your love of life, your partnership with Paul and your friendship will always be treasured memories

~ John Challis and Nicky Lewis

We have so many happy memories of family get togethers over the years.

~ David and Marjorie Malott

With wonderful memories of my dear sister, please accept this donation to her alumni fund.

~ John Whaley

Mary was always so generous and very wise. She will be missed.

~ Fred and Mary Possmayer

Dear Martha, David, John , Tom & families our sincere sympathy to you all Doris Steidl & family

~ The Family of Doris Steidl

With our condolences, the Children's Health Foundation family.

~ Children's Health Foundation

In loving memory of Mary. Our family will remember her generosity and kindness forever.

~ Victor Han

Mary was an exceptional lady, and I always enjoyed seeing her.

~ Becky Cavers

We are so sorry of your families loss. Our deepest condolences. From Walter and Cynthia Vieira

~ Walter and Cynthia Vieira

Donation to Mary Jane Harding Fund

~ Renato Natal

My sincerest and deepest condolences and sympathies to Mary's children and their families. To lose both parents in such a short period of time in the midst of this COVID-19 pandemic, when the ability to gather, pay respects, and remember is so severely curtailed is truly tragic. Dr. Albert Schweitzer said, "The important thing in life is the traces of love that we leave behind when we have to leave unasked and say farewell." Be comforted, in the days ahead, by the wonder traces left by Mary.

~ Paul Cooper

We are all sorry to hear of Mary's passing. Some memories stand out more than others. I can remember when Paul and Mary dropped by our parents house to tell us they were getting married. Mary and I spent time skipping together on the front sidewalk that afternoon. we had so much fun.. On behalf of the entire Fortnum family, we are thinking of you through these difficult times. Paul and Mary are now reunited for an eternity......Kathee (Fortnum) Johnson-Bolt..

~ Kathee Johnson-Bolt

We are so sorry for your loss. Our thoughts go out to the whole Harding family. Brian and Susan Woods

~ Brian and Susan Woods

Mary and Paul were godparents to us when we first came to Canada in 1980. Coming from UK. we were new to the country and did not know many in London. They invited us to their home in Fanshawe Park Road and to the Boview Farm, and we developed a lasting friendship with them as well as some members of the family (Martha and Tom). Over the past 40 years our families have spent many, many gatherings at our home or at Boview Farm. Our family is forever grateful for the generosity and love that Mary and Paul had showered upon us. We will remember the enthusiasm and energy that Mary put into everything she did especially how she had brought up her children to be great citizens of our community. We are blessed to know them as great friends and to be regarded as honorary members of the Harding family. We will miss them very much. Our deepest condolences.

~ Victor Han

Mary was a bright light for all who knew her. Her energy and positive spirit were an inspiration. As wives of the Meds ‘58 class, her positive attitude influenced everyone. John and I send our sincere sympathy to all of the family.

~ Bettye Girvin

Martha, David, John and Tom I’m sorry to hear of your mother and fathers passings. Many fun times between the two homes on Louise. I had the pleasure of going to the farm with my mother and Mary hosted a beautiful lunch for us. Hope you are all well. My sincere condolences. Arden Pellow

~ Arden Pellow

Mary was a vibrant woman who touched many lives with her thoughtful generosity. My thoughts and prayers are with her family. I feel blessed to have known her.

~ Sue Hardy

So sorry to hear this ... and so painful to lose some of the most precious person in our lives... Mary and Paul, our "Canadian parents", two most wonderful human beings, thank you so much for your unconditional love and support! We are so lucky to spend so much memorable time together with you! You really taught us how to love, care for others, and contribute to the community! and shaped our lives in a more positive way. You will always have a very special position in our heart! Amanda and Weston

~ Amanda Tong

Martha and family, I'm so very sorry for your loss. While having known your mom and dad for a number of years at the church, I felt especially close to them over the past couple of years, pre-Covid. I had always hoped to have been able to visit them, and then your mom, in Strathroy but it just wasn't meant to be. I felt a kindred with your mom who always helped me with advice about my mom. She was a kind soul and I know her and your dad are in heaven. I'm so very sorry. My heart goes out to you. Our condolences. Linda, Mike, and Jordan Varty

~ Linda Varty

I was so sorry to hear about the loss of Mary. She was a lovely, kind lady and my thoughts are with your family during this time. Jan Challis

~ Jan Challis

Mary was a hard-working, lovely and truly wonderful human being. My sincere condolences to her family.

~ Laurie Russell

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