The Rev. Elliott Wannamaker Hardin, Jr., who served as a pastor in the Western North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church for 36 years, passed away at Givens Estates Health Center in Asheville, NC, on June 15, 2022. He was 81.
Wannie was born on August 27, 1940, the eldest of four children to the Rev. Elliott Wannamaker Hardin and Margaret Ormond Hardin, and grew up in South Carolina. He graduated from Duke University in 1962 and ever after remained a dedicated follower of Blue Devil sports.
After college, Wannie obtained an M.B.A. at the University of Texas, an M.Div. from Duke Divinity School, and an honorary doctorate from Pfeiffer University. He began his career in 1967 as the business manager at Brevard College, where he also taught Christian ethics and served, for a year, as interim president of the college.
In 1973, Wannie left Brevard to serve as a Methodist pastor in the Western NC Conference. He would lead congregations for the next three decades, playing a vital role in the lives of thousands of people in the church communities of Oakley UMC in Asheville, Blair Road UMC in Mint Hill, Mount Tabor UMC in Winston-Salem, First Methodist in Charlotte, and First Methodist in Hendersonville, in addition to providing leadership for five years as a District Superintendent.
As the son of a Methodist pastor and a Methodist pastor himself, Wannie had a lifelong connection to Lake Junaluska. Most importantly, he met Betsy McLean while working at the Lake in the summer of 1964, and they were married in the Chapel there the following year. In 2003 they retired to their home in Junaluska, where they spent many happy years among friends. In 2019 they moved to Givens Estates.
Wannie was an enthusiastic traveler and loved planning ambitious trips, even with a young family. He traveled to China in the 1980s with a group from Duke Divinity School and later led trips to Israel, Jordan, and Egypt. He and Betsy enjoyed hiking trips in England and Switzerland and visits to many other countries. Wannie had a passion for golf and played as often as possible, numbering two holes in one among his accomplishments. He also took great pleasure in books and ideas, continuing to study and teach long into retirement. He always looked forward to visits from his grandchildren.
Wannie’s values of fairness and openness to the experiences of others led him to advocate for inclusivity in the Methodist Church throughout his career. In retirement, he helped to organize an annual peace conference at Lake Junaluska that drew speakers from all over the world.
Wannie is survived by his wife of 56 years, Betsy; his son, Eric, and wife, Sara of Greensboro, NC, and their children, Rory and Ali; his son, Ed, and wife, Kim of Brooklyn, NY, and their children, Jacob and Claire; his brother, Ormond Hardin; his sister, Peggy Hardin; and many other beloved family members and friends. He is predeceased by his parents and his sister, Harriet Peterson.
A celebration of life will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, August 27, 2022, at Lake Junaluska Memorial Chapel.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to one's favorite charity.
The care of Reverend Hardin has been entrusted to Wells Funeral Home of Waynesville.