PLAINVIEW – Whether the relationship was that of a former student athlete or a current coworker, friends of all facets gathered at Wayland Baptist University on Monday to pay tribute to a man who devoted his life to the university.
Executive vice president Dr. Bill Hardage, 62, died March 25 in a plane crash in central California. The accident has meant a week of recovering for the Wayland family, not only emotionally but in the workload.
The Monday memorial service, held in Harral Auditorium, gave faculty, staff, students, alumni and community members a chance to remember Hardage’s life and his commitment to the university.
Dr. David Bishop, dean of the Amarillo Campus, brought a word from the external campus employees, many of whom were very familiar with Hardage through his intimate relationship with those campuses.
“He was so proud of the reach that Wayland had, but the thing that brought a change to his face was when we talked about the students at Wayland,” Bishop said, noting that many conversations were shared about students coming to know the Lord through their experiences at WBU. “It wasn’t about the dollars to him but about the individuals.”
Dr. Roy McClung, president emeritus of Wayland, attended the service, presenting his remembrances via Dr. Don Cook, professor emeritus of English.
“I take my hat off to the memory of Bill Hardage,” McClung said. “Many will be touched forever by the programs he helped establish.”
Cook added a few of his own sentiments on behalf of the university faculty.
“When the pistol went off, he was a sprinter, and he remained one for many years. He always got to where he was going before the rest of us,” Cook said with a laugh. “He was also a great navigator and leader.”
Dr. Bobby Hall, vice president for academic and graduate services, spoke on behalf of the administrative cabinet, with whom Hardage worked closely. Hall recalled his energy and loyalty, along with his “intercom” system to his administrative assistant and others on the hall in which he officed.
“I’ll miss his smile, his laugh and even his reprimands, because I know they made me better,” Hall said. “I know that Wayland will do what he would want us to do. We’ll hitch up our pants, dust off our boots and trudge forward into tomorrow.”
Wayland President Dr. Paul Armes spokes of the four loves in Hardage’s life – his family, Wayland, flying and his Lord – calling him “perhaps one of the most loyal people I’ve ever met.”
“He believed the very best about this school, and he wanted the world to know that Wayland was a special place to serve and a great university,” Armes said. “During some of its darkest days, Dr. Hardage was the standard bearer at Wayland.”
In addition to a video slide show, the memorial service featured musical presentations by Spirit, Wayland Singers, Dr. Sandra Mosteller, clarinetist, and Mark Anthony Pair, piano artist in residence. Stan DeMerritt, assistant executive vice president, also sang “God Bless the USA,” a favorite of Hardage’s typically sung at external campus graduation ceremonies.
A chair draped by his academic regalia marked the spot reserved for a special man.