M.J. Hardman and the Gainesville Iguana

by Joe Courter

M.J. Hardman right here said the words that put into motion what you are reading today.

I was new to Gainesville in 1977, and went to a meeting or two of the Humanist Society of Gainesville. MJ mentioned they needed someone to send out the HSG meeting announcements and asked if I would take it on. One postcard a month, yeah I can do that. But as time went on, the postcard turned into a letter to incorporate more information about other activities in town. 

Soon I was also setting up meetings for the group as well. Come the mid-1980s I was involved with Central America peace organizing. Jenny Brown and I merged the Humanist mailing list, our Central America list, and the Quakers list, which then,  in 1986, became the Gainesville Iguana, mailed out to 600 or so people.

Through that whole period until now, whether in contact or in later years not so much, she remained a very important person in my life. No nonsense, insightful, uncompromising. 

I knew her as a friend. Most knew her as a teacher, a mentor and a woman not to trifle with. I was talking to a student of hers once and I referred to her as Martha. She got a shocked look and gasped, “You call her Martha?” 

An amazing trailblazing woman: I was enriched by having her as a friend.

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