Obituary Details

Mary Jane Bardo

(01/24/1906 - 11/15/2002)
Courtesy of The Lusk Herald, 05/31/2002

Jane Bardo

A memorial service for Jane Bardo, will be announced at a later date.

Jane Bardo, longtime Lusk resident, beloved piano teacher, church organist, friend and activist to the Niobrara County community, died Nov. 15, 2002, at the age of 96 years and 10 months.

She survived her husband Gerald (Gerry Bardo) by six months. Together they were an integral part of Lusk and its surrounding community, and were known for their generosity, listening skills and their strong belief in commitment to church and community.

Mary Jane Towler was born in Portland, Ore., on Jan. 24, 1906, the fourth of five children of George and Mary Shepard Towler. The family returned to their home city of Minneapolis, Minn., when Jane was an infant.

Music, literature and church were important in their rural-to-suburban life, and by age 11 Jane started taking piano lessons. As a high school and college student she became pianist for the Richfield Methodist Church, a position which helped to finance her university education.

She graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1928 with a Bachelor of Arts and certificate in normal piano. She taught two years in Minneapolis before buying a piano class in Lander, in 1930.

An adventurous city girl, she arrived on one of the last Pullman trains into Lander, followed shortly by a large crate containing her new Steinway piano - the same instrument she was still vigorously playing in June 2002. She set the piano in the bay window of a house she shared with the local home demonstration agent, across the street from her future mother-in-law.

Though these were depression years, she later related many wonderful stories about idyllic Lander years during which she became totally immersed in its musical community and Methodist Church. She was enthralled by the Wind River Range and intrigued by the people and the land of the Shoshone and Arapaho tribes. Without doubt, her favorite stories revolved around meeting and marrying Gerry.

They married in Lander on November 3, 1934, and departed immediately for Wahoo, Neb., where Gerry had accepted a newspaper job. Other journalist positions followed at Cape Girardeau, Mo., then in Staples, Minn., where their two children Lucy Lee (1938) and Dale Douglas (1941) were born.

Through newspaper connections, J. B. and Nellie Griffith learned of Gerry and offered him a position at the Lusk Herald. The Bardo family moved to Lusk in November, 1941, the beginning of a long-standing business relationship and friendship with the Griffiths, and later with the Griffiths' son Jim and his family.

Both Jane's and Gerry's professions gave them unique opportunity to interact through newspaper, music teaching and church with the greater Niobrara community. They gave of themselves, but felt they received more from the community in return. For the next 61 years, most of them lived on Elm Street just one block from the center of town, Lusk was their home and their life.

Jane taught piano in her home from about 1945-1994. Most of her former students probably remember her as a demanding teacher who was sensitive enough to use an entire lesson-time to hear about problems a student was facing at school or home.

Although they were not always her most willing pupils, both Lucy and Dale received their early piano training from their mother, but neither found her particularly interested in discussing perceived injustices at home during lessons.

During her piano teaching years, she was also organist at the Congregational Church, a role that included providing music for weddings, funerals and other assorted town events. Always an advocate for a strong public school music program, she was a frequent accompanist of young musicians at music festivals. She was vitally interested in children and their families. As a teacher, she expected practice and discipline, and encouraged students to love music. However, in a broader sense, her real satisfaction came from seeing how students wove music into the developing fabric of their lives.

In her later years as a master teacher, Jane was sometimes an adjudicator for pianists at music festivals. She was also an effective spokesperson for piano teachers in the Wyoming Music Teachers Association, an organization she served as both president and treasurer.

As an enthusiastic volunteer in the Lusk community, she will be remembered for her organizing and fund-raising efforts. She was a member and past president of the Lusk Women's Club.

A founding member of the Niobrara Nursing Home, Inc., she served as president from 1974-1988. In 1968, she became a charter member of the Niobrara Hospital Auxiliary, and for nine years was intimately involved in its Lights of Love program.

In 1971, she was appointed to the Wyoming Status of Women Commission, which she served for six years.

For several years she taught piano at the Wyoming Women's Center, and in 1978 was named Wyoming Volunteer of the Year by the Wyoming Health Care Association, and received the President's Citation from the American Health Care Association.

The Congregational Church of Lusk was her haven, yet also was a focus of concern and dedication. She taught Sunday School, served as Sunday School superintendent, and as a member of the Board of Trustees.

She was active in the Church Circle and Dorcas Guild. Beyond the local church she served in various capacities in the Wyoming Association of Congregational Churches.

Jane is survived by her children and their spouses, Lucy and Ben Harms of New Marlborough, Mass., and Dale and Rina Bardo of Wilton, Maine; three grandchildren, Andrew Harms of Brooklyn, N.Y., Alisa Bardo of Minneapolis, Minn., and Leslie Bardo of Duluth, Minn.; a niece and her husband Susan and John Hilbert of Porterville, Calif.; and a nephew, Richard Bardo of Adelphia, Md.

Although she would have vociferously protested being the focus of any worship service, a memorial service for Jane will be announced when family members' schedules and cooperative weather can be coordinated.

Cicmanec-Pier Funeral Home has graciously agreed to manage Jane's funeral arrangements.

Niobrara County was her home, and Jane would have wanted anything given in her memory to benefit its citizens.

A memorial fund will be established, and details will emerge with her memorial service announcement.

Jane was always an avid reader, always learning and thereby adjusting her world views.

This September, and after Gerry's death, she reflected to Lucy she was in her third life - the first two looking forward, the third looking back.

Perhaps she is now experiencing her fourth life.

The Lusk Herald
May 14, 2003
Jane Bardo

A memorial service for Jane Bardo will be held Saturday, May 17, 2003, 2 p.m., at the Congregational Church in Lusk, with Pastor Juanita Gillies officiating. Inurnment of the cremains will be in the Lusk Cemetery.

Jane Bardo died Nov. 15, 2002, in Douglas.

The "Jane Bardo Memorial Student Travel Fund" has been established to help students with the cost of travel to regional or national music competitions. Donations can be sent to : Lorene Sims, Treasurer, Wyoming Music Teachers Association, 2128 Reynolds, Laramie, WY 82072.

Images & Attachments

Jane Bardo
Jane Towler Bardo
Mr. & Mrs. Gerald Bardo, 1984
Jane and Gerald Bardo, 1989
Mr. & Mrs. Gerald Bardo celebrate 65th Anniversary, 1999
Photo courtesy of Joshua Brackett's Eagle Scout Project

Related/Linked Records

Record Type Name
Obituary Bardo, Gerald (12/10/1908 - 06/09/2002) View Record
Obituary Bardo, Helen (11/05/1910 - 04/07/2000) View Record
Obituary Bardo, Dale (05/20/1912 - 06/05/2000) View Record
Obituary Towler, Margaret (02/26/1904 - 01/05/1979) View Record
Obituary Bardo, Elsie (12/10/1881 - 09/02/1979) View Record