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Wanda Harding 

Giving can be defined as the act of letting go or doing something that a person doesn’t have to do. In Martin County , we are blessed to have many who practice giving on a regular basis. They give to their families and their community….not just once, but over and over again. This being the season of giving, the Martin County Community Foundation searched out someone who practices giving, to try and understand the motivations and desires that make giving a natural part of who they are.

Wanda Harding is such a person.  She has made giving a big part of her life. While humble and concerned that talking about her history of giving would create miss-conceptions, Wanda did share enough that many people will identify with her reasons for being generous.

First and foremost Wanda does not give for recognition; her giving comes from her heart and is an expression of appreciation for what she has received coupled with a strong desire to give back to the community. When her husband Leo was still living, they each practiced giving back to their community through involvement in many ways. Leo was very instrumental in nurturing the Shoals Community. His active leadership on numerous boards and volunteer spirit is legendary. In fact only days after his death in 1994, the Shoals Adult Booster Club recommended and the Shoals School Board acted to rename the baseball field “Harding Diamond” in recognition of Leo’s 32 years as a volunteer baseball coach. Other organizations such as East Fork Water came into being with Leo’s guidance. The value of having clean water in homes and on farms throughout Martin County can not be overestimated, and Leo was a big reason that East Fork Water exists today.

They say that “behind every good man is a good woman.” The reality is that they usually are walking side-by-side, encouraging each other. After Leo passed away, Wanda stepped up to help continue the many good things Leo had helped form, and also helped begin some new ones too. Wanda was one of the first people to be approached about the Martin County Community Foundation in 1999 by then President Carla Harner. The idea that Martin County could have a community foundation was helped when Wanda formed the first endowment fund. The Leo Harding Memorial Fund was established by Wanda in 1999. Its purpose is to support the baseball field Leo so loved. How appropriate it was that the first fund be named for Leo Harding. One can imagine that he would be proud that Wanda was willing to continue their spirit of giving through the establishment of this fund. She also is the founding donor of the Leo Harding Family Fund which is an unrestricted grant making endowment, and the Shoals Library Fund. Each of these endowment funds will distribute regular payments to the entities they support….forever.

“Wanda Harding has set a very good example for all of us in her work in giving of time and resources to further the mission of the Martin County Community Foundation”, said current Board President, Tony Nonte.

Wanda continues to be involved in the many community endeavors. Her current list of community organizations include, the Shoals Library Board, Psi Iota Xi Sorority, St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Shoals Adult Booster Club, Loogootee Women’s Club, Martin County Council on Aging, Daughters of the American Revolution, East Fork Water board, while also serving on the Martin County Community Foundation Board.

Wanda and Leo also have a family to be very proud of. There are five children, five grandchildren, and one great grandchild. Wanda and Leo had at least one child in school for 40 consecutive years, proving they recognized the value of a good education.

It is true that Wanda and Leo had good fortune. Leo was in the banking business for all of his adult life.  He began by working at the Martin County Bank as a teller and advancing to be President. Wanda worked for National Gypsum for seven years and later founded and owned the Harding Insurance and Real Estate Agency. By working together, they achieved success on many levels. Family, business, and community are areas of their lives that will be recipients of their mutual success forever.

The word “giving” defines Wanda Harding very well. Martin County Community Foundation is grateful to her for all her good works.

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