Donald Hardison found his purpose early in life and lived it through to the end.
His purpose was bettering his community both as an architect and as an active member.
Hardison, an influential architect whose firm designed many of the defining buildings in Richmond and the East Bay after World War II, died Sept. 17 at his home in El Cerrito. He was 96.
His signature works included numerous school buildings, including the new Richmond High School, and the student union and Zellerbach Hall at UC Berkeley.
One of the projects he most treasured, and received national acclaim for, is no longer standing. Easter Hill Village was a federal housing complex designed and built as Richmond's hastily built wartime housing was being demolished.
The project, opened in 1950 at a former quarry site where Easter services were once held, was designed to bring together elements previously unheard of in such projects, including exposed beam ceilings, gardens and play areas. The project, designed to house a mix of tenants of various incomes, incorporated boulders left from the quarry as design elements.
The innovations won honors from the American Institute of Architects in Washington, D.C.
Hardison was honored by Richmond with a Historic Preservation Award in 2009, and his involvement with the community was readily apparent at the ceremony, where your columnist sat next to him and he offered insights on aspects of the city's history and built environment.
"His interest in so many community groups, his love of architecture and his love of nature -- he combined all of those into his profession," said Hardison's daughter Jan Brown.
Hardison was a native of Fillmore who came to the Bay Area to study architecture at UC Berkeley, where he graduated in 1938.
He remained in the area and during World War II worked as a naval architect at Mare Island and the Kaiser shipyards in Richmond.
He opened his own firm after the war, which is still in business today as HKIT Architects in Oakland.
In a 40-year career, he served on state and local commissions, became a fellow of the American Institute of Architects, was president of the local and state AIA chapters, and became AIA Chancellor of the College of Fellows.
In the community, he was active with the Richmond Art Center, the Richmond Museum of History, the SS Red Oak Victory and the Richmond Chamber of Commerce.
A celebration of his life will be held at 2 p.m. Oct. 12 at First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley.
WEST COUNTY NOTES: Here are the top finishers in the annual parade that opened this year's Solano Stroll on Sept. 9, as judged by Lisa Bullwinkel of Another Bullwinkel Show and professional wrestling announcer Alan Bolte:
1. El Cerrito Preschool Cooperative; 2. (tie) Albany Preschool and Crestmont School; 3. (tie) Hot Pink Feathers, Dance Azteca and El Cerrito High School Gauchos.
Honorable mentions included the Albany-Berkeley Soccer Club, Berkeley Ballet Theater, Berkeley Pools for All, Berkeley YMCA Dancers, Brasarte, Brushstrokes Studio, Head Over Heels Athletic Arts and Saint Mary's High School cheerleaders.
There is also a permanent dropoff box (no liquid medications, please) accessible from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily at the Richmond Police Department, 1701 Regatta Blvd.
Davaran has the title role in "Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson," a new musical set to open Oct. 9 at the S.F. Playhouse (www.sfplayhouse.org).
The group assembled and shipped five boxes of new underwear, socks and sleepwear to Our Lady of Grace Catholic School in Reserve, La., to "assist families in that parish school that lost everything in Hurricane Isaac."
Stewart writes that "we are hoping that this will be the beginning of a new relationship between our little group and the parish school."