Donna Jean LaVan Hardt, 76 years old, left this Earth the same way she entered; sweet, beautiful, and with open arms to love.
A funeral service will be held at 11:00 AM, Thursday, November 16, at Evangel Church, 3225 N 14th St, Bismarck. Visitation will be held one hour prior to the service.
Burial will be held at Mission Cemetery, rural Wilton.
An extraordinary being of light and grace. Born on July 9th, 1947. Never uttering a false word or thinking a negative thought.
Growing up the daughter of an Assembly of God minister, had its benefits – closely walking with the Lord. And challenges – maybe not being able to attend movies or dances or dragging Main Street, and going to The Big Boy when she wanted? (Oh wait, she managed to sneak those things in somehow.)
A childhood filled with an abundance of love and adventure; administered by the most talented parents, Arnold and Rev. Florence Engstrand. Giving Donna a lifetime of knowledge, skills, and the inherited traits of common sense, tenacity, and goodwill.
Becoming a mother to Michelle in 1969, and Kaja in 1971, was the start of her complete dedication to her daughters and eventually her grandchildren.
Donna was determined to make a career and a life for her children and started with a gentle nudge from a friend. And what did she do? Well, if you can believe it, she started doing the weekend weather at KXMB-TV in Bismarck. Donna was pretty shy, and that wasn’t the best fit for her. So it was suggested to be a television news photographer. And Donna took on this new career with an innate ability to know exactly what to do – no school or training could teach her. She just knew.
Soon she moved over to KFYR–TV which became her home for many decades. All the while raising her two daughters on her own, with lots of love and help from her parents.
Donna’s career enabled her to cross paths from presidents to governors, movie stars and celebrities, farmers and ranchers, politicians and police, military and ministers, teachers and students, protests and parades. Celebrations and burials.
No one made her star struck. They were always just subjects that she wanted the world to see. Telling the stories through the eye of her skilled photography.
A true pioneer for women in this field. Teaching and mentoring many young men and women in the television news industry, who were starting their own career paths.
Donna found the love of her life, and it turns out he was just down the hallway at KFYR Radio: Sid Hardt. A love for donuts and coffee and Harley’s turned into a romance that led to marriage in the summer of 1987.
Donna and Sid loved riding their Harley’s, taking trips with the wind in their faces, and a love for the road. Destinations of small towns and camping grounds and adventures abundant; small town cafes with yummy comfort food and conversations a favorite.
Donna’s real identity: “The Namma.” Namma was the epitome of a dedicated grandmother to her eight grandchildren. Making her grandchildren the center of her universe was the only thing she knew. There was no middle ground. It was full-force, and straight ahead for every sporting event, concert, holiday, and birthday! She was there making all of these occasions the most memorable and fun. Wrapping gifts extravagantly with out-of-the-ordinary gift toppers was a true joy for her; no detail left to chance.
Donna’s grandchildren could depend on her every minute of every day. She was there. Namma.
Retirement wasn’t a word in her vocabulary. Gentle suggestions were met with a resounding, ”NO!” Donna loved the variety of assignments; every hour off to somewhere or someone new.
When health concerns started to creep in, she knew the time had finally come to turn off her camera. She never forgot anything. The memories of every assignment, interview, live shot, emergency, world events were carefully categorized and catalogued inside her computer brain. A data bank that was referenced and initiated within seconds. Recalling every detail and recited with the beginning sentence, ”I remember that time I did a story on it.”
What cruel irony and twist of fate that her memory and sight and speech were taken from her at the end. Dementia, Alzheimer's, and Macular Degeneration came as thieves in the night.
Unwilling to submit or give up wasn’t in her DNA and Donna was funny, loving, and sweet to everyone until the Lord began to lay the path for her Home into The Kingdom of God.
Donna leaves behind her dedicated, devoted, and most loving husband, Sidney Herman Hardt.
Her daughter Michelle Farnsworth, and her husband Richard, and their two sons; Harrison and Thomas. And Harrison’s girlfriend, Mesa Potts.
Her daughter Kaja Van Horn, and her daughter Tayler, and fiancé Cameron Gall.
Sidney’s daughter Haley Anderson and her husband Brandon. Their two daughters, Paula and Sarah.
Sidney’s son Chad Hardt and his wife Kacy. Their three sons Sage, Henry, and Jed.
Donna’s sisters Gloria and Carolee, and brother Arnold, Jr.
And her beloved Harvey and kitty Luna, who were served food on fine china every day.
Donna was preceded in death by her parents, Arnold and Rev. Florence Engstrand. And her infant sister, Agnes. And Sidney’s parents Herman and Irene Hardt.
~Isaiah 40:31~ But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as Eagles, they shall run and not be weary, and they shall walk and not faint.