Joliet woman leaves legacy of God, family, hard work
By Denise Baran-Unland Correspondent December 24, 2012 3:44PM
Marene Hardy-Bates SUBMITTED PHOTO
Updated: January 26, 2013 6:08AM
Although Marene Hardy-Bates of Joliet shelved her dreams because of tremendous responsibilities, her living example of high ideals and hard work became the catalyst by which her family attained theirs.
“She overcame tremendous adversity and pushed us to use our talents to pursue success,” said Tavaras Hardy, an associate head basketball coach at Northwestern University. “She touched the lives of everyone she encountered in a positive way.”
Growing up in a poor Mississippi family, Marene, by age 10, was the family’s primary housekeeper and caretaker of three younger siblings while her parents (Marene’s father drove a truck; her mother was a waitress) worked.
Marene’s parents valued education. Marene graduated from Grenada High School, but the schools she attended until her sophomore year were segregated. Once, Marene inadvertently found herself on the front lines of the Civil Rights Movement when, unbeknown to her parents, she skipped school to witness a march led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“She ended up spending some time in jail, but her mother didn’t scold her,” Tavaras said. “She was more upset that she skipped school and less upset for her standing up for what she believed in.”
Marene was 20 in 1979 when she married and moved to Chicago with her first husband. When that marriage ended in divorce, Marene moved to Joliet and worked a variety of jobs — waitress, bus driver, in factories and at the U.S. Postal Service — to support her growing family.
After Tavaras was born in 1980, Marene moved her teenage brother into her home so he could attend Joliet Central High School and play football. When he graduated, Marene offered the same opportunity for another brother.
In 1987, Marene’s parents moved to Joliet and Marene eventually became their primary caretaker. Marene briefly studied fashion at Joliet Junior College but never complained when she set fashion aside for a job as a teacher’s aide. She married Clarence Bates Sr. of Joliet, the man who would remain her best friend until her death.
“My mother was a fun-loving, high-energy woman who loved putting smiles of people’s faces,” Tavaras said. “She was very giving and she never took anything for granted. She kept us out of trouble and made sure we went on to bigger and better things.”
Tavaras’ brother Greg Hardy of Texas works for Allstate; his sister Monica Hardy (deceased) had worked for Johnson and Johnson.
At St. John Missionary Baptist Church in Joliet, Marene was a dedicated member of the usher’s board and a founding member of the nurse’s board.
In 2008, Marene was diagnosed with colon cancer but continued working during part of her four-year battle.
Although Marene was only 58 when she died Dec. 7, she left behind an eternal legacy of God, family and hard work.
“Because my mom was not exposed to higher education, she never sat around and talked about being a sales manager or pharmacist,” Tavaras said. “She talked about the value of committing to something and sticking with it and she practiced what she preached. She knew she had to make sacrifices. That was the substance behind her.”
Contact Denise M. Baran-Unland at 815-467-5249