Wanda Lee Hardison

February 8, 1930March 31, 2021

Wanda Lee Hardison, 91, passed away March 31, 2021 in Chandler, Arizona. Wanda was born in Elwood, Indiana February 8, 1930 to Roama and Esther Lewellen. She moved to Arizona in 1953, and first worked for the Washington School District and then for Sears Roebuck in the cosmetic department. At Sears, she met Jay Hardison, an off-duty Phoenix police officer working security. She and Jay were married in 1968 and Wanda subsequently went to work for Valley National Bank where she held positions as a teller and teller trainer. Wanda and Jay were married for 52 years until his death this past January.

Jay began work as an investigator with the Phoenix office of the United States Public Defender after he left the police force. This job required him to spend a substantial amount of time in “Indian Country.” Wanda retired from VNB in 1980 so she could travel with him across Arizona, New Mexico and other parts of the United States. In her 18 years travelling with Jay for his work, she met many new friends and formed valued and meaningful relationships. The attorneys at the Public Defender’s Office said she played an important part in Jay’s investigations because she had a way of establishing a connection with many of the woman they encountered, and the women became more willing to talk to Jay and aid in the investigations. She developed a love and collection of Native American pottery and jewelry through her travels. She was particularly proud of her efforts to help a young prisoner she met during one of the investigations sell his artwork to support his family and said “God granted me the opportunity [to help] that comes once in a lifetime.” When they were not traveling for work or pleasure, Wanda and Jay enjoyed time at their house in Forest Lakes and spending time with the many friends they made at Desert Cross Lutheran Church in Tempe, where Wanda was in the alter guild for many years.

Wanda is survived by her son, Terry L. Corbett (Susan), stepchildren Ted Hardison (Soni), Maria Hardison, Peter Hardison, and Victoria Mendoza, grandchildren through Jay Chrissie, Melissa, Zack and Alaina, and 4 great-grandchildren. Services are private. Arrangements by Phoenix Memorial Park and Mortuary.


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