Seniors & Aging

Retirees Judy and Art Harding of Glacier fulfill her longtime dream of owning a boat

Judy Harding once tried to impress a date with her boating skills when she was a college student, but wound up capsizing the vessel.

A few years later, she met and married the love of her life, but throughout their 50-year marriage they had spent little time on the water.

Until recently, that is, when Glacier residents Judy and Art Harding bought not one boat, but two. The second vessel, a 36-foot 1965 Grenfell, is the dream boat she envisioned in her youth.

“I had these certain dreams when I was growing up in Bellingham,” says Judy, now 73. “I wanted a swimming pool, a convertible car, a treehouse and a boat.

“I told a friend when I turned 72 that I got three out of four, but my friend said ‘It’s not too late to get a boat.’ My response was, ‘Are you kidding me, at our age?’”

It turned out that Judy, a retired teacher, was only kidding herself. She still dreamed about that boat.

“I just happened to be reading The Bellingham Herald’s classifieds and this ad just jumped out at me,” she says.

That’s how she and Art acquired a 34-foot 1965 wooden Fairliner in July.

Says Judy: “Art told me, ‘A lot of couples take a cruise for their 50th anniversary. I’ll get you a cruiser!’”

Long story short, the boat had a lot of issues, but the Hardings were having so much fun with marine life that they decided to upgrade.

“I spotted the Grenfell on Craigslist from a Canadian seller,” says Judy, who took possession in November, not long before the couple’s 50th anniversary the day after Christmas. “We’re planning to enjoy sailing this year with my sister, Mary Borman Otu, after we return from Phoenix (where they spend winters).”

Even though family life – the Hardings have five children and eight grandchildren – and careers prevented them from boating, Judy never forgot the fun she had growing up in a boating family in Bellingham.

“My dad (John Borman) was a wooden-boat builder in the 1950s and 1960s before fiberglass boats came in,” she says. “He was also a flight instructor, among many other jobs, and was very entrepreneurial. He belonged to the Bellingham Yacht Club.

“I remember how I would sail these 12-foot Penguins on Bellingham Bay when I was a member of the Bellingham Junior Yacht Club,” says Judy, who graduated from Bellingham High School in 1959 and earned a bachelor’s in education in 1963 from what is now Western Washington University. “And dad took our family out on the family’s boat on Lake Whatcom.”

Judy, in fact, was confident enough in her boating skills to embark on the water with a Western student from New York.

“Sam had never been on a boat and I was trying to impress him,” she recalls with a grin. “The two of us went out on this tiny boat. Coming in, I lost control of the boat and the mast caught on the trestle and dumped Sammy and me. I was a very strong swimmer and got help before he froze while clinging to the boat. That was our last date, but I soon got right back in and kept boating in college.”

After a year of teaching in Alaska, Judy met Art, a former Army Air Corps member who is now 87, in San Francisco, where he had begun a career that resulted in many years as Greyhound’s national director of security. Judy spent 25 years teaching elementary school and junior high English. They moved to Phoenix in 1975 when Greyhound transferred its headquarters to Arizona.

They still enjoy Arizona as snowbirds, but now plan to spend as much time in Whatcom County as boating conditions permit.

Judy writes a blog, “Treehouse Reflections,” at judybormanharding.blogspot.com. An enthusiastic hiker, she loves the outdoor life offered in Whatcom County.

Judy vividly recalls climbing Mount Baker in 1962 as a college student. Her sister, Claire Borman, is an equestrian who owns Kelly Park Stables and is the only one of the six children in the family who has stayed in Bellingham throughout her life.

Longtime local doll collectors will remember a business about three decades ago in downtown Bellingham called the Gingerbread Doll House, which sold new and antique dolls. Judy was living in Phoenix but set up the business so her mother, Shirley Borman Robertson, could run it.

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