Vertus Hardiman was born March 9, 1922 in Lyles Station, Indiana. Lyles Station is known as one of the earliest Negro settlements in the United States, and the Hardiman family was among the first to migrate to the area. In 1928, Vertus attended Lyles Station Consolidated School, an institution for children enrolled in grades one through eight. His favorite subject was mathematics, and it was here that he found comfort and isolation from the racial tension of his time.
He soon matriculated to Lincoln High School in nearby Princeton, Indiana. In 1941, Vertus graduated with honors — a success he attained in spite of a tremendous obstacle. As a child of only five-years-old, Vertus endured a horrific medical experiment. During the occurrence, Vertus and nine other Lyles Station children were subjected to excessive amounts of radiation. The trial was misrepresented by hospital personnel as a cure for scalpel ringworm. The event left Vertus with a severe physical deformity. He hid his secret for over seventy years, choosing never to disclose his condition until befriending fellow church choir member Wilbert Smith. Despite his circumstance, he lived life on his own terms and refrained from complaining about his affliction. Vertus’ life was an example to others of the triumph of the human spirit.
In 1945, Vertus traveled to California in search of broader opportunity. Less than a year later, he began a long career with the Los Angeles County General Hospital, where he served with distinction. Upon retirement, Vertus was honored for forty years of loyal service and an incredible perfect attendance record. To his peers, his work was exemplary.
Vertus lived out his last years in Altadena, California, where he was a faithful member of the First AME Church of Pasadena. The center of his existence, his church family cherished both his kindness and wisdom — traits that he shared freely. Serving in multiple church capacities, Vertus spread his love and compassion throughout the church congregation and community. Many described him as a giant in human spirit who uplifted the lives of those he touched. He encouraged his community with his wisdom saying, “You never get anything unless you work for it. I never borrowed money. I always looked ahead and planned ahead for my needs. I was blessed by the Lord who told me I had to provide for myself.”
Vertus insisted that education is the foundation for creating a heaven while here on earth. He never borrowed money and subsequently was able to accumulate astonishing amounts of wealth by investing his savings in real estate. Upon his death, Vertus bequeathed eight million dollars to his church and favorite educational scholarship fund. Vertus harbored no anger and was known to say frequently, “If I am angry, my prayers will not be answered because my heart’s not right.”
After his death, many honored Vertus Welborn Hardiman, a glowing example of a man that carved his way to happiness by his spirit of forgiveness and great love for others. His journey was completed June 1, 2007.