What’s In a Name delves into the fascinating stories and personalities behind some of the city’s best-known street and location names. This week the Journal looks at Dandenong’s Jim Hardy Park, found where Macpherson Street, Clow Street and Foster Street East meet.
Jim Hardy was born in 1913 at Warrnambool, one of eight children in a family with strong Irish heritage.
His parents, Winifred and Thomas Hardy, moved several times between Warrnambool and Bacchus Marsh when he was a child.
Sport and music were important elements of the Hardy family life and both have been keen interests in Jim’s own life.
He left school at age 14 to become an apprentice in a barber’s shop, but during the The Great Depression he took any work he could find and eventually followed his father into the Federal Milk Company.
In 1940 he left and enlisted in the Army.
Jim served in the 3rd Australian Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment in the Middle East and also on New Guinea, where he became a member of the concert party and performed for troops.
Jim was affectionately known as Crackers, a name his gun crew in Palestine first coined.
In 1940, he married Anne Moylan at St Mary’s Catholic Church in Dandenong.
After the war, they settled there and for 27 years Jim worked for Westminster Carpets.
His warmth and generosity, together with his wit and humour, made him many friends around Dandenong.
He was an active contributor within St Mary’s Parish, particularly with the cricket club as a player and a junior teams coach.
Well into his eighties Jim was still fit and continued to devote himself to helping others, particularly through the Dandenong Sub-Branch of the RSL and ‘Thuruna’ Homes for the Aged.
He was president of both organisations for 10 years and guided the RSL through the challenging task of relocating.
Jim was a strong advocate for the RSL and its role in protecting the welfare of ex-servicemen and their families.
He was named a Greater Dandenong Living Treasure before his death in 2003.
– Compiled with assistance from the City of Greater Dandenong.