Stan Hardt looked around his Campus Ministries office. It’s a couple of days after graduation and his last day as a Union College employee. He’s worked for 23 years at Union with his wife, Angie, and his mission has been to help students build healthy relationships—the secret to happiness in heaven and on earth.
“My work has been to bring heaven down to our relationships,” Stan said. “We all want to go to heaven, so let’s get started early.”
For 15 years, the couple worked with the spiritual journey program and mentored college students. Stan would meet with groups of men and Angie met with the women. They built trust, held students accountable, laughed and cried together.
Then Angie and Stan decided to retire. But it didn’t last long. For an additional eight years, Angie taught math as an adjunct professor and Stan worked as Union’s pastoral counselor and taught a business class.
For 21 years, they also shared their secrets to a happy marriage with the students. Every February—after the rush of holiday proposals—the Hardts hosted an Engaged Encounter weekend with various speakers and workshops.
“To love is a decision,” Stan often says. “Love is a commitment through thick and thin. You don’t always feel the love, but you can always decide to love.”
Taryn and Tony Rouse helped with Engaged Encounter for years and agreed to carry on the conference in the future with the help of Dan and Shy Martinez and Mike Mennard and Michelle Velazquez-Mesnard.
This time retirement is going to stick, Stan decided, picking up a box. He’s got plans. Angie’s got plans. And there’s a whole world out there with new ways to continue ministering. But for six months, Stan’s going to take it easy—just clean the house, spend some time in their little cabin in the woods, and get around to the long list of priorities that have been neglected for 23 years.
The phone rang, interupting his thoughts. Hesitating, Stan picked up the receiver for his last official employee phone call.
“Stan, I’m so glad I caught you before you left!” said the voice on the phone. “We’re putting your photo on Instagram and I just need to know—what’s your favorite part about working at Union College?”
Stan grinned. This question was easy.
“Union College is a great environment and I’ve enjoyed working with Pastor Rich. But my favorite part is the students,” Stan said recalling hours of joking, tears and long conversations. “They’ve been my friends.”
by: Becky Daniel, director of strategic marketing