Nancy Gurnett Hardy (1932-2003)
Hardy graduated from the Winter Haven High School in 1950 and took courses at the University of Florida and Florida State University before attending secretarial school. Her first job came from family friend Dick Pope, the founder of Cypress Gardens. Hardy was known as the best citrus reporter of her time wrote for the Reporter, Winter Haven News Chief, Citrus Industry Magazine, and the Lakeland Ledger. Some of Hardy’s articles have appeared in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. Hardy also served on the Board of Directors for the Florida Citrus Showcase.
Florida Citrus Reporter
Winter Haven News Chief
Citrus Industry Magazine
Florida Citrus Showcase
E. Garrett Youngblood once said: “Talk to someone high up in the citrus industry and you can be sure of three things: They’ll know the price of fruit, they’ll know how much money they’ve lost or made, and they’ll know Nancy Hardy.” Nancy Gurnett Hardy was born on December, 18, 1932. The daughter of famed Sarasota citrus reporter Jack Gurnett, Hardy would become the third generation of her family to enter the news business. After the Gurnett family moved to Winter Haven when Nancy was five and at age of seven Hardy began assisting her father’s work on the Florida Citrus Reporter.
Graduating from the Winter Haven High School in 1950, Hardy took courses at the University of Florida and Florida State University before attending secretarial school. Her first job came from family friend Dick Pope, the founder of Cypress Gardens. Later she worked for several newspapers across the state. Hardy assisted her father at the Reporter, while also frequently accompanying her father to meetings of citrus organizations, where she became familiar with many important people in the industry.
After the death of her father in 1968, Hardy continued the Reporter, working with her friend Karen McEver. Hardy attended every major meeting and program in the industry and soon was on a first name basis with many key figures in the industry. Hardy was known as the best citrus reporter of her time because of her knowledge and her unbiased writing. “The people I cover give me a lot more leeway because I have been around a lot,” she once said. “Those conference rooms are my arena as much as they are theirs.”
Hardy also wrote for several newspapers across the state, including the Winter Haven News Chief and the Lakeland Ledger. Some of Hardy’s articles have appeared in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. Hardy also became involved with the Citrus Industry Magazine, where she served as their senior writer for over 20 years. In her spare time, Hardy also served on the Board of Directors for the Florida Citrus Showcase.
During her career, Hardy received many accolades from organizations like the Florida Farm Bureau, the Florida Southern College Citrus Institute, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and the Peace River Valley Citrus Growers Association. In 1998 Hardy was named Woman of the Year in Florida Agriculture by Commissioner Bob Crawford. A second great honor came when Hardy was inducted into the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame in 2002; joining her father as the first father-daughter pair to be inducted into the Hall.
Nancy Gurnett Hardy died on January 26, 2003 after a long struggle with cancer. She is still well remembered by the citrus industry for her years of the unending search for the news and the meaning behind it.