Bardo, Jane and Gerry
A look at life in ...The Golden Years
Lusk couple stays active in 'retirement'
by Mary Shield of the Lusk Herald
They are a quiet couple that prefers little recognition for their contributions to the community. They have added much to the community. They are both in their 80s now, but continue to contribute their time and talents to the local area and make a difference.
Gerry and Jane Bardo of Lusk have always been actively involved in the communities where they have lived over the years, and since moving to Lusk in November 1941, they have continued that tradition.
The newspaper business
Gerry Bardo has been involved in newspapers most of his life, starting as a printer's devil while in junior high school, at about age 14. During the Armistice he sold papers for a daily and he and his brother delivered papers for the Denver Post until both became apprentices to printers. he was an experienced linotype operator and printer by the time he finished high school. He had also been editor of the high school paper and got a good foundation in that area as well, he said.
He grew up in Lander and worked for the Wyoming State Journal. He said there were three newspapers in Lander at that time and Lander was not much bigger than Lusk is now.
He presently writes a monthly column for the Lusk Herald where he was editor for many years before his "retirement" in 1978.
Mrs. Bardo a certified piano teacher
Jane Bardo is a state and nationally certified piano teacher and is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Music Pedagogy. She still has many young students, as well as adults.
She moved to Lander in 1938 after graduation from the University to take over as a music teacher, and met up with Gerry through their church.
"When I got out of the University of Nebraska in 1932 I found her playing piano for the Methodist Church. This red-headed piano player was quite interesting," Gerry said with a smile.
Gerry speaks proudly of his wife's music.
"Wherever we've lived it didn't take long for her to get into music. We moved to Lusk in 1941. We not only found our community life centered in the church, be it Methodist or Congregational here; for her, especially, she was able to put to use her talent as a musician."
Staying active after 65
Jane is outspoken when she discusses that fact that her national certification as a piano teacher may be put on emeritus standing which means she would be given an honorary title, but would effectively be retired. Her certification is good until 1992, so she is in no immediate danger of being retired, but it looms in the future. She is now in her 80s, but says she only began enjoying teaching piano since turning 65.
"It's been the most enjoyment since age 65," she said, adding that she became interested in the hospital auxiliary beginning at approximately the same time.
"I found I could do some things I never thought I could do. The auxiliary raised money to buy many things for the hospital," she said.
She is modest when she talks of her involvement in the hospital auxiliary. She was in on the forming of the corporation to get the Niobrara County Nursing Home and was president of the corporation until it was disbanded last year. She has served on the Eastern Wyoming Mental Health board and served six years on the Wyoming Commission for Women.
"I was doing things years before, I never would have thought of doing," she said. "It gave me a whole new outlook and new ideas," she said of the service on the Wyoming Commission for Women.
"I learned a lot and I hope I put something into it."
In 1970 she became active in the statewide music association and served as that organization's president in 1980 and 1981 - all after age 65.
"They would have put me into emeritus status before I ever got started," Jane said.
"Some people do these things when they are younger. I've been only a self-respecting citizen since I was 65, she said.
Busy with community involvement
Gerry said the first impressive work his wife did was initiating the Lights of Love tree. He said the project was contagious, and grew quickly. He scoffs at his wife's belittling of her mathematical skills and states that she has a very retentive mind that he relies on to recall certain events, or family connections.
She may have trouble multiplying and dividing fractions, but she can figure out piano theory," he said in awe.
For her part in helping improve the health care of the community, Jane was awarded the American Health Care Association Presidential Citation on Nov. 1, 1978.
She currently plays the piano every Tuesday for a sing-along at the Niobrara County Memorial Nursing Home, and teaches piano at the Wyoming Women's Center.
A variety of hobbies, interests
Since Gerry "retired" he has taken up gardening seriously which he has always enjoyed.
"I provide for a few birds that Wyoming has; feeding and watering them. Our garden is usually something people drive down the alley to see. It is a tremendous release for us. Every once in a while friends will call about their garden or about birds," he said.
Gerry has served a couple of terms on the American Association of Retired Persons state legislative committee. He also was an observer to the White House delegation on aging, which was a week's visit to the nation's capital that was an out-growth of the state legislature.
He has always been involved with schools. he says in 1943 Niobrara County had 13 school districts. School District No. 1 included the town of Lusk south to the county line and north to Hat Creek. There was a small school at Manville.
He said the state legislature encouraged counties to reorganize their school districts and Niobrara eventually did that. During these years he was named to the Wyoming Citizens Committee on Education and attended a Washington conference on education under the Eisenhower Administration. Then Vice-president Richard Nixon was their official host.
His most recent major work was the two-year compilation of the history of the Congregational Church in Lusk.
"The two institutions that deserve the most attention in a community are the churches and the schools," Bardo said.
Both of the Bardos have taught in church for a number of years since their retirement and lead a discussion group, which Gerry describes as "stimulating."
Helping to bring Women's Center to Lusk
Other community activities the Bardos were involved in helped bring the Women's Center to Lusk.
"We never would have accomplished it if Jim Griffith had not been the state auditor and been in close contact with the legislature and on the board," Bardo said. "Jim had a good relationship with (Gov. Ed) Herschler.
"Dick Pfister called one night and said 'why don't you and I drive over to Evanston to look at the Women's Center there:'"
Bardo said he asked Pfister if they shouldn't take some women along as well, which they did. He said Holbert Cochran flew them over. Pat Eikenberry, who was the editor of the paper at the time, also went with them, as did Bev Walsh.
"Judy Uphoff and an assistant met us at the airport, and gave us the run of the facilities. Judy arranged for the officers to come in and talk about the center and the relationship they had with the women. We came back convinced we really wanted it (the center).
"Pat and I started a number of stories. I was especially convinced of the benefit to the community economically. There was another benefit which was building social consciousness of the community. That's what has happened and continues to happen," he said.
Bardo was also involved with defending Niobrara's right to representation in the state legislature. He had to testify in federal court during the two-day trial and helped Eikenberry with the publicity.
"We won and the League of Women Voters appealed to the State Supreme Court. Lusk won. It brought the county together," he said, adding that some of the most effective testimony in the case came from Kenny Freeman.
"I am amazed to look back and see things I've been involved in since when I thought I was retired," Gerry Bardo said.