A Life Lived: Norman H. Hardin, the last of his siblings to die
Published 1:06 pm Tuesday, May 10, 2022
BY ROZELLA HARDIN
Norman H. Hardin’s death April 23 brought back some childhood memories of when Norman and his family lived just a short distance from our home in the Siam-Beck Mountain Community. Norman and his parents, Logan and Pearl Hardin, and his brothers and sister attended church regularly at Beck Mountain Baptist Church as did our family.
Norman was the youngest of four brothers. He was a likeable person, had many friends growing up, and at times could be a prankster. His mother taught the children’s Sunday School class at church, and Norman liked to throw paper wads and do other things to interrupt class. At times he was a thorn in his mother’s side, but always at the end of class he would give her a hug, and she occasionally would pop him on the bottom or give him a pat on the head.
His parents lived in the upper part of Siam off the main road behind Runt Collins’ store. It was known as “the little red store” to most folks in the community, and was a favorite place to hang out for many. In the evening, they played softball in the field across the road from the store and often enjoyed a game of horseshoes. Norman’s family was a hard-working family. His father worked at the local rayon plant and raised tobacco on the side. His mother was a stay-at-home mom.
Norman and his siblings attended Siam Elementary School and Elizabethton High School. Norman was a smart boy, but school was not his favorite thing to do. When he got old enough he joined the Army and served in the Vietnam War for two tours of duty. He was awarded the Bronze Star for rescuing members of his company under heavy fire.
His older brother, Clifford, was a 25-year Army veteran. His brother, Jack, also served in the military.
After service, Norman moved to Hickory, N.C., and worked in the furniture industry until his retirement. He married and he and his wife, Rebecca, had a daughter and son.
Norman’s parents were charter members of the Beck Mountain Baptist Church as was his sister, Betty. They were always at church. When Logan worked, the family walked to church. Logan was a deacon and was very fond of the children at church as was his wife, Pearl. She always taught the children’s classes and loved to sing. I still remember the songs she taught us: Jesus Loves Me, the B-I-B-L-E, Whisper A Prayer, and the little song, “I’m in, right out, right up, right down. I’m happy all the time.”
In later years, a picture of Logan and Pearl was placed in the church nursery in honor of their service and love for the children of the church.
Betty was Norman’s only sister, and she attended college and became a teacher in Sullivan County, where she lived with her husband, Tennessee Highway Patrolman Jack Combs. They had a son, Lewis Combs, a local attorney.
Jack married and moved to Ohio, and Wayne, who was next to Norman, in age had some learning disabilities and lived on Third Street before he died a few a few years ago.
Norman Hardin was like most people who live and die. They never make the headlines and their names do not appear in Who’s Who. Yet, as the years roll by, we learn that these people are like most of the other people we know, they made their mark in life, were important to the people that mattered, and, in the case of Norman, served their country and were ready to give their life for freedom. You can bet those members of his company in Vietnam, whom he rescued from heavy fire, remember him.
Like his father, Norman was a factory worker, who knew what a hard day’s work was, but took pride in taking care of his family.
Today, the Hardin home behind the little red store, which, too, is no more, is occupied by another family. Like the little red store, only memories of Logan and Pearl and their family remain. Time has a way of changing things. Families that once made the community have passed on, and it’s a different community now with different families.
Norman was laid to rest at Happy Valley Memorial Park, where his parents are interred.