Dr. Rodney T. Hard

Ted Hard, Gregory, Nelson, and Grace

Greg and mother with the maid and the dog in Korea.

Dad's passion was books.  He sold books to students and he helped organize and stock his book-room/study-space down town, the Christian university, and two Christian seminaries.

Lessons learned in Korea.  Big responsibilities now with a family.      Janice and Gregory Hard with Shannon, Ian, and Ethan

Greg playing soccer at boarding school at Korea Christian Academy in Taejon, Korea.

Grace Hard with son Greg at the military base swimming pool.  Teaching for the Army dependent school had its perks.

Our two connected houses.  Front gates in the background

Above our house in Pusan, Korea.

Type your paragraph here.

Ted Hard during World War II.  Second from the right at the top.

Greg standing among Sunday School kids at a country church where Ted Hard guest preached.

Below our house in Pusan, Korea.

Ted and Grace Hard on wedding day.

Nelson, Gwendolyn (Wendy), and Gregory

Greg and Janice's Wedding

Nelson and Gregory in their yard in Pusan, South Korea.

                                           FAMILY ANALYSIS

Presented to Dr. J. Muller in partial fulfillment of requirement for a college class called THE FAMILY
April 12, 1977

The brunette co-ed glanced up from her magazine to see who her seat partner would be.  Tall, dark Ted Hard lifted some baggage to the rack above the seat, checked the number, and seated himself to await the beginning of the fourteen-hour trip home to New York State.  He was aware of the car full of Wheaton students behind him, and noted that he must be overflow.  Beside him, Grace had returned to her reading, not knowing that the man beside her was also a Wheatonite; she didn’t much feel like striking up a conversation. But indeed, providence does not always follow one’s first inclinations.  Soon, the two were engrossed in talk, which continued for some time.  But the distance home stretched large.  Grace was awakened from sleeping on Ted’s shoulder when his toilet kit, being gingerly removed from the high baggage rack slipped and landed on her nose!  It is fortunate that mutual embarrassment is easier to endure.  In Buffalo, the two disembarked for fresh air and a short walk.  Grace saw fit to throw a light-hearted snow ball, which failed to go without notice.  Ted got off first the next morning.  Grace continued down the Hudson to her home in New York City.

Told with only two or three imagined (and therefore minor) details, this episode marked the beginning of Grace Vogel’s and Ted Hard’s acquaintance, subsequent courtship, and marriage.  Christmas vacation was the time of the train trip.  The subsequent June saw their wedding in New York.  What seems like a romantic beginning and a quick courtship may present cause for concern.  Indeed, one person has indicated that such a short acquaintance may be a cause for some of the troubles, the friction, and at times severe conflict in my parents’ marriage.  But much quicker marriages were typical of that era (1940s), and Ted and Grace – henceforth to be referred to as Dad and Mom – were far from irresponsible.

Mom had become a Christian at an early age.  From age nine forward, she was convinced that God was calling her to missionary work in Tibet.  The second of three daughters growing up in the middle of the Great Depression, she was neither spoiled nor unaware of the harsh realities of life in this world.  In high school, during the stress of World War II years, she was a superior student, and when she entered college, she did so with the knowledge that tuition would come from her pocket.

Dad grew up on a farm in a small town in Connecticut, the oldest of ten children (and several foster children).  At age sixteen, he committed his life to the Lord.  High school graduation included his valedictory speech and he entered Yale University on full scholarship after a summer at prep school.  But with only a semester behind him, he entered the Army Air Corps, went to cadet school, and flew as a navigator in B-29 bombing missions over Japan. While in the service, he also perceived a call to go to the mission field, but with no specific area in mind.  When he married Mom, he was just as committed to going to Tibet (her condition to marriage) as she was.

Ten months after their wedding, Mom and Dad took Sterling Theodore home from the hospital.  Nineteen months from Sterling’s arrival, Rodney Thomas was delivered.  By that time, Mom and Dad had graduated from college together.  Gwendolyn, Nelson, and Gregory came after arrival on the mission field.

Dad went to seminary at Westminster.  After graduation and a year of internship at a church in Michigan, Mom, Dad, Sterling, and Rodney left for the Far East.  Destination?  Korea.  Mao had taken over Tibet.

Essential to an understanding of the family situation under which I grew up is a fair glimpse of what Korea was like.  Unfortunately, only first-hand experience is sufficient, but for present purposes, a paragraph will have to do. 

The destruction of the Korean War left Seoul (pronounced exactly like 'soul') in shambles and Pusan full of refugees.  What sixty years before was a town of 100,000 is now a crowded major port of 2.5 million inhabitants.  At one time called Cho-sun - Land of the Morning Calm - Korea is a country where one retires at age sixty to sit in the sun, smoking one's pipe and enjoying the benefits of grown children.  It is a land where Buddhist monks retire to remote temples for study and meditation while in big cities, shipyards bang and sparkle, office secretaries type, and subway trains (in Seoul) rumble.

To many, it is a dirty land with human feces fertilizer, stinky city streets, and muddy roads.  It is a land struggling to raise its nose above the water surface of 20th century industrial and economic standards but has not suffered the effects of a Japanese-type crass materialism.  It is a land with a strong, largely conservative Presbyterian church.

What did Dad's work involve?  When I was growing up, it involved teaching at the seminary nearby; preaching in country churches; distributing relief to "leper colonies", orphanages, old-folks homes, etc.; running an in-house book store of English predominantly religious books sold to seminary students; being charter member of a society to translate and publish important Christian books; working on the side to design and experiment with solar heating and cooking devices.

I often went to country churches with Dad, bouncing over winding, bumpy, mountainous country roads.  After I learned to drive (when I was twelve) I would sometimes pilot the Land Rover myself for a distance.  At a country church, Dad would preach, and if he stayed for the day, eat at the pastor's (or an elder's) house, do visitation in the afternoon and in the evening have a shortened sermon followed by Bible story filmstrips.  Nelson, my older brother by two years, or I, or both of us would attend to the projector or the screen.

At the college/seminary, Dad was the librarian, besides teaching part time (anything from theology, to comparative religions, to general science).  Relief work might involve loading up the Land Rover with cases of Multi-Purpose-Food and delivering them two hours away, or distributing bandages or scrapbooks full of pretty and bright pictures. 

Our house (actually two old Japanese houses connected by an enclosed corridor) served as Dad’s office, his secretary’s office; it housed his personal library of several thousand volumes; it was a storage point for books recently published; it was a pick-up point for filmstrips lent out to churches, receptions room for visitors, and at one point it served as a graduation auditorium.

When one was at home, one necessarily became involved with Dad’s work.  The work never left him – or us.  During the day, he was either teaching at the seminary or working at home; behind a typewriter, issuing instructions to secretary or carpenter in for repairs, sending the maid on an errand, asking Mom or one of us children for assistance.  At night, he would often be found studying, preparing a sermon, or typing, if he wasn’t out preaching at a week-day service. 

There was always an urgency in Dad’s work, and because there was so much to be done at home, there was a conflict between the need to do more work and the need to spend time with his family.   The abundance and urgency of work often meant pressing wife and kids into service.  After a tiresome week of teaching with plans for a restful Saturday, my mother was not always inclined to pour herself into filing papers, writing a letter, or whatever else might need to be done. 

Generally, we children worked grudgingly – we resisted work.  As a result, tension arose.  Dad couldn’t understand why we weren’t attacking our jobs with as much vigor and energy as himself.  Trying to get things done with begrudging kids who looked for excuses and had to be instructed how to do a simple job made for irritation and a sense of harassment.  I think my father often felt: “I have bigger and more important things to do than tying up boxes or weeding the garden.  But I can’t just delegate a job and expect it to get done.  I’ve got to oversee, check up, make sure that the job gets done – and done well.”

Although a source of tension and parent-child conflict, Dad’s having his work at home was also very essential to the development of his children.  It instilled in me a desire to do my best in a job – any job; it gave me many of the benefits of close parental supervision; it gave me an understanding of what missionary work involves; it instilled in me an attitude of: “A person is valuable for what and how he produces – not for what he is.”  Indeed, I’m still struggling to be a more Christian sense of people and their value – their relationship to me and my work, and my responsibility and proper attitude toward them.

In contrast to my father’s schedule, which was different every day, my mother’s teaching jobs lent themselves to her maintenance of regular and predictable schedules.  My remembrance of her teaching goes back only to her days at the elementary school on the American Army base in Pusan.  In contrast to my father’s work, teaching was something done entirely away from home, with the exception of papers brought home to be graded.

My family wasn’t involved with her colleagues; we weren’t pressed into service for her; when at home, she attended to home activities.  Mom’s working contributed, I’m sure, to the independence of her children.  It also allowed for her to spend more time in home activities – helping with homework, doing family accounting, providing affection and attention, etc.  But it was sometimes cause for conflict when asked to involve herself heavily in my father’s work (besides being mission treasurer, hostess to visitors, and sometime secretary).  In a sense, teaching had become her missionary work.  By teaching, she was being a support to the family bank account, and thus being a support to children’s education and development as well as lifting off the pressure of financial problems.  Part and parcel to that teaching job was the nightly rest and weekend recuperation.  If my father asked for a lot of help on Saturdays, it might be asking more than my mother was willing or able to do.  Painful back trouble did not help matters.

Decision making never involved a family council.  Mom and Dad made decisions without consulting their children.  Although Dad always had final say if there was disagreement, most decisions were reached after discussion on an egalitarian basis.  As a sociologist might describe the situation: The decision making structure was one of egalitarian mutual consultation, with a tendency toward autonomic sharing of decisions.  Mutual discussion decided, “We will buy a four-door Datsun 1600.”  Mom decided what color it would be.  Mutual discussion decided on addition of a room as a kitchen.  Mom designed it.  In general, discussion was held in secret or behind closed doors, then a decision would be announced.  In the giving or permission, one parent’s consent was usually enough.  Occasionally I would get, “Go ask your father.”  Upon which asking, my father would reply, “I’m not sure, go ask your mother.”

I only once remember being punished by my father – a slap for back-talking him.  Likewise, I remember only one spanking from my mother.  Dad’s tone of voice or threatening look was usually discipline enough.  Mother wasn’t as demanding, but usually chastised with her tongue.  We children were well disciplined.  Speaking for myself – I usually had no cause for disobedience; for the most part I was glad to do what my parents bade or forbade.  With good discipline came responsibility.  The workshop in our house often found me working diligently and alone on some project.  We children travelled alone to any part of the city.  We rode our bicycles in the middle of city traffic.

I always had a partiality toward my mother when I was younger.  When she argued with my father, I was always (in silent non-intervention) on her side.  If I needed someone to talk to, I spoke with her.  She was the sex-educator of the family.  She was the spiritual counselor.  She was the one I hugged and kissed.  She was the one that helped me with algebra, that tucked me in bed at night, that gave me my allowance.  She was the one that would stop in the hall, hug me tightly, and tell me that I was a very good boy.  She was the one most “impressed” by my “wizardry” when I fixed a lamp or replaced a wall socket.  I could talk to her about Dad and vent my feelings and thoughts about him.  When she got angry, I usually cringed in shame –rarely was I angry in return.

My relationship with Dad was much more formal.  Most of the time he called me “Son”, resorting to a crisp “Gregory” when he was angry or when he had something important to say.  Although Mom objected to “Yes, ma’am!”  a quick Yes sir!” was in order if Dad gave impatient instructions or questioned, “Do you understand me?”  It seemed that he could never see the good of a job completed – there were always flaws to point out, criticism to be given.  Indeed, Dad instilled in me a good sense of quality, but I often boiled up inside at his criticism and the tone of his voice in which it was delivered.  It seemed that I always should and could have done better than I had.  Talking to Dad about personal concerns was avoided until my middle teens, and when we were alone, our conversation usually dwelt on academic matters or discussion of events.  Although I sometimes wanted to, I rarely hugged or kissed Dad, and when I left for boarding school at age thirteen, we shook hands.

Mom has asked me several times what I thought was the most important thing that she and Dad had been trying to teach me as I grew up.  Generally, I was at a loss for a cogent answer.  Principles of Christianity were so ingrained in me that I hardly knew that my responsibility before God and man, the need to commit in word and action my life to Jesus Christ was the core of my parents’ instruction.  Regular church attendance at a local congregation was just not part of the life of my family while on the field in Korea.  Although we knew the language better than most missionary children, we children would not have understood much in Korean Sunday school.  One week I would be with my father at a country church in a leper colony and the next week I might be worshipping with my mother at the Army chapel.  The most consistent spiritual training came in Bible story reading (when we children were young) and family prayers.  Almost every evening after supper saw us gathered as a family in the living room for family devotion.  We’d read a chapter of the Bible and Dad or Mom would pray. 

We were encouraged to study the Bible on our own.  I prayed every night silently before falling asleep.  Several attempts to get us children to memorize the Shorter Catechism failed – Mom and Dad did not push us.  When a time of questioning did come around for me, I was away at high school – but I pursued answers seriously.  A time of confession and repentance lat in my junior year, not rejected later as insincere or unheard by God marked the beginning of my commitment to the Lord.

What do I want to imitate in my marriage and family?  What do I want to avoid?  I want to imitate my parent’s demonstrativeness of love and affection in front of their children.  I want to kiss my wife and hug her, hold her hand and compliment her in front of my children to give them a positive example and the security of a stable relationship between their parents.  I want to imitate a firm and fair discipline that gives responsibility and a high degree of independency.  I want to imitate the emphasis on Biblical teaching and everyone’s responsibility to and before God as his creation.  I want to imitate involvement of my children with my work.  I want to imitate a positive criticalness.  I want to imitate a willingness on Dad’s part to wash dishes or change diapers when the need arises.

But I want to avoid the formality of father-son contact.  I want to avoid the tone of voice that says, “Why didn’t you do better than you did?”  I want to avoid a lack of complimenting my son on progress or on a job well done.  I want to avoid pressuring my children too much to achieve or to produce.  I want to be able to hug my son, to talk to him freely about sex, or his English assignment, or his relationship to the Lord.


Ted and Grace Hard graduate from Wheaton College  in Illinois.

Grace and Ted Hard collaborating on a project.