A Life Shaped by Manatee High School: The Story of Mr. Hardee


The vibrant red bricks that form the learned halls of Manatee High School have been standing since 1926, though the school has been around since 1897. The school holds shelves of books that spell out our country’s turbulent history, and it is a tale of time itself. Those whose footsteps have echoed through this school extend far beyond us; their memories constituting the history that we ourselves indulge in throughout our time here.

One such person is Mr. Hardee, who graduated in 1949. His time at Manatee was marked by the joys that we students 80 years later find ourselves bathing in. Mr. Hardee was little involved around campus, dedicating most of his time to his core academics and a job on the side. He knew he would not be able to afford college, as his tutelage took place during the Second World War. Therefore, Mr. Hardee found it necessary to explore other avenues to pave his path into the rapidly changing world. He settled on the US Navy, and the day he enlisted was the day he found purpose. He was quickly taught the importance of arduous work and determination during his rigorous time at boot camp.

However, when it was his turn to be stationed on a battleship amid the Korean War, his mind was brought back to one person. During his days of study as a Hurricane, the long and mundane days were made brighter by his high school sweetheart, the late Mrs. Hardee, Margaret Colich (Class of 1950). They had been the idyllic couple who complemented each other’s every feature. She was wildly involved at campus and would prove to be a promising young woman. Though her heart was weighed heavily by Mr. Hardee’s absence, they would continue to correspond through letters and phone calls at every opportunity.

Mr. Hardee’s army days were mostly spent aboard the USS Essex as a radar operator. He would scan the seas for anything that might stand in the way of their voyage. Mr. Hardee could not have been happier to see land again when his ship docked for the last time in Jupiter, Florida. The embrace of his long-missed love spurred him forward and gave him the courage to get married. They would raise a family together, and he would provide for them at his job managing power lines. He worked for the same company for over sixty years and would rise through the ranks.

Mr. Hardee looks fondly upon his time at our red-bricked school. He cites it as the formulating years that shaped his life beyond it. Peering into the past at such a personal level has been an experience that will not leave my mind, just as the incredible life Mr. Hardee lived will not leave his. Manatee Highschool is the catalyst for many brilliant careers, and Mr. Hardee is undoubtedly one of them.