Meet Dee Hardison

Delores (Dee) Grinton Hardison has come to live with us at Caring House. We’re honored.Dee Hardison

Dee was born and raised in Bellingham, Washington, the oldest daughter of nine children of Walter James Grinton and June Lenora Arntzen.

Dee was fortunate as young woman to be able attend Western Washington University, in order to pursue teaching. Early on, she understood the value of hard work, being raised in a large working class family. Dee worked at the local movie theatre in Bellingham selling tickets to help pay for her college expenses.

During her time in college, Dee met Lowell Hardison — her husband to be. They dated throughout her college years, marrying soon after she graduated in 1960. Dee and Lowell love snow skiing, and spent many weekends doing that in the local mountains.

Later Dee landed a teaching job at Lincoln High School in Seattle, Washington. Ironically, Lowell’s sisters were attending the same high school at the time. Lowell and Dee raised their first son Mark in Seattle with the help and assistance of grandparents and Lowell’s sisters.

Work took Lowell and the family to Reno, Nevada. So Dee took on the first of many adventures in her life, moving far away from family. It was in Reno where Brad {their second son} was born. The arrival of Brad meant the departure of the sports car that Dee and Lowell enjoyed in their road rallies in the mountains outside of Reno. A more practical station wagon became the family car.

Lowell’s job opportunities that brought the family to Southern California and Torrance in the early 1960s. Dee and Lowell purchased their home in Southeast Torrance, where they still reside today. Dee took some time out of full time teaching to be home with her two sons. Dee’s teaching background is in Physical Education, and she earned a Master’s Degree from California State University, Long Beach.

Teaching and raising a family was not enough for Dee. It was not long before she got involved in her community. In the beginning it was the local PTAs at her sons’ school and then later the Homeowners’ Association.

Dee is one who sees something to be done and she does it. In one case, that something was a vacant lot at the corner of her street. The neighborhood did not have a park and there sat property that had been previously used for oil extraction. Dee’s goal was to establish a park so the neighborhood children could have a safe place to play. It took time and a lot of effort, but eventually Sur La Brea Park was dedicated for the enjoyment of the community.

Through her work with the park Dee became an appointed member of the Torrance Parks and Recreation Commission. Dee saw more work and contributions she could give to the City of Torrance. Concerned that the city could lose the character and neighborhood feel it had, she turned her attention to the Torrance Planning Commission and was added as a member.

Dee realized that to get even more done she would need to run for Torrance City Council. She ran a grassroots campaign and was elected in 1986 — serving two four-year terms. In November 1992, she announced she would run for Mayor in the 1994 election. Dee was not persuaded against the idea with an already-announced challenger. Hard work made Dee even more determined and she won the election and served two four-year terms as Mayor.

While she has been recognized and honored by countless organizations over the years, her drive and her passion is the work and what it can accomplish for others. Dee retired as Mayor in 2002. She had previously retired from full time teaching with her last assignment in Special Education for the Torrance Unified School District. Even when Dee “retired,” she continued to be involved and volunteer for organizations such as St. Mark’s Presbyterian Church and the Torrance Education Foundation.

A strong sense of family and her spiritual guidance are at her core. She’s always been the mentor and supporter for her brothers and sisters when they confronted challenges in their lives. Dee always wants to be there for everyone. Her immediate family includes her son in law Nicolás, her daughter in law Gretchen, and her grandchildren Alisa and Ryan.

Dee loves to read and to travel with Lowell. They have travelled to Asia, South America and Europe and many parts of the U.S.

We’re glad that Dee is with us at Caring House. We look forward to caring for her as she has cared for so many others.

In Memoriam

Dee died on September 30, 2017. Honor her. Remember her.