Dr. Deborah Welles Hardy, 90, passed away peacefully in her sleep Oct. 23, 2018, after a very brief stay at Hospice House. Until that time, she had resided at her home in Laramie.
Deborah was born Nov. 2, 1927, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to Colin and Doris (née Berger) Welles and grew up on their family farm near the shores of Lake Michigan. She attended high school in Milwaukee and later attended Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania for two years before moving to California with family members when her mother was remarried to Frank Hursley.
Deborah earned a B.A. in modern history from Stanford University (1949), then an M.A., also in modern history (1950) from U.C. Berkeley. She was in the Honors Program at Swarthmore, received a graduate fellowship at Stanford, as well as membership to Phi Beta Kappa.
Deborah met Eugene Hardy at U.C. Berkeley, where he was completing his Ph.D. in Slavic studies. They were married Feb. 6, 1950, and spent a year in Vienna, Austria, on Eugene’s Fulbright scholarship. Afterward, they had their first child, Scott, in Berkeley, before moving to Laramie, where Eugene had accepted a position as associate professor of history at the University of Wyoming. She gave birth to two more children, Jonathan and Bridget, in Laramie.
By the late 1950s, Eugene had unfortunately fallen ill with cancer and could no longer teach. During his decline in health, under challenging circumstances and while caring for three children, Deborah managed to complete her Ph.D. in Russian history at the University of Washington (1968). Returning to Laramie, she then began her long career as a tenured professor in the Department of History at the University of Wyoming. Eugene passed away Dec. 31, 1969, and Deborah remained at UW, where she established herself as a highly capable academic and extremely popular professor, publishing several books, including a history of the University of Wyoming. She garnered international respect as an academic, admiration and great fondness from friends around the world and the deep love and loyalty of her children.
During her career, Deborah served as head of the Department of History, was honored as an Outstanding Former Faculty (1996) and lifetime member of Phi Beta Kappa. She was appointed as an official exchange scholar to the Soviet Union, served as president of the Rocky Mountain Slavic Association, as well as president of the Western Social Science Association. She was a member of the Wyoming Council for the Humanities and was active statewide in women’s education.
Through her love for history and travel, she learned French, German and Russian. She also loved the arts, especially music, was a skilled pianist as well as a gourmet cook. Most of all, she enjoyed her time spent with friends, family and colleagues, often around a dinner table, where she would share stories and laughter. She will be dearly missed.
Deborah is survived by two sisters, Bridget Dobson and Polly Kuesink, as well as daughter Bridget, son Jonathan (wife Suzanne), two grandchildren Ryan and Dana, eldest son Scott (wife Melissa), three nieces and one nephew.
In lieu of a formal service, as per Deborah’s request, there will be an open house from 1:30-5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 18, at the Hardy residence, 2450 Park Ave. Friends and colleagues are invited to come and celebrate the remarkable life of a truly remarkable woman. Gifts are unnecessary. We hope you will come.