Lovida Hardin Coleman, Sr.
January 12, 1923 to May 25, 2020
Lovida Hardin Coleman, Sr. (nee Lovida Mae Hardin) was the daughter of Joseph A. Hardin, a well-regarded New Orleans physician and philanthropist, and his wife, Leontine Marchand Hardin. The oldest of six children, Lovida completed normal school in New Orleans before receiving her high school diploma from the Boston Latin Academy in 1940. She earned her degree in elementary education from the Boston University Wheelock College of Education and Human Development in 1944. While in Boston, she met and married William T. Coleman, Jr. They remained in Boston as her husband earned his J.D. at Harvard Law School and served in the Army Air Force during WWII. Their first child, William T. Coleman, III, was born in Boston. She had her second child, Lovida H. Coleman, Jr., in Washington DC where her husband clerked for Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter. She had her third child, Hardin L.K. Coleman, in Philadelphia where her husband started his private sector legal career.
Lovida was a gracious, elegant, charming, caring, and loving presence. She was a marvelous cook, especially renowned for her New Orleans gumbo (her roux remains a closely held secret), and no one missed an opportunity to have a meal in her home. She was a superb hostess who treated with poise and elegance the many famous politicians and justices as well as her friends and her children’s friends who regularly shared her dining table. She simply loved the act of sharing and giving. Alma Powell told Lovida’s family that “I thought of her as family. We shared so many things in common, from our growing up in the Deep South, to our many similar experiences through our husbands’ lives in public service. She was so warm and pleasant to be with. My life is richer from having known her.”
In addition to her hospitality, Lovida was involved in a range of civic engagements. She served on the boards of Germantown Friends School, the Barnes Museum, Cliveden House, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the International Club III, WETA, Sidwell Friends, and the National Gallery of Art. She was a member of Germantown Monthly Meeting and the Sulgrave Club.
Lovida spent time with every U.S. President from Eisenhower to Obama, and traveled the world, including China, Russia, Brazil and Western Europe. Some of her favorite memories, however, are of supervising the sixth grade camping trip for Germantown Friends School, and spending summers with family and friends in South Pomfret, VT.
Lovida is survived by her sons and daughters-in-law, Allegra and Gail; four grandsons and one granddaughter; her brother, Dr. Virgil Hardin; many nieces and nephews; and multiple generations of family friends who all saw her as the epitome of grace and love. Lovida was predeceased by her husband and daughter.
Lovida will be remembered at a Meeting for Memorial and interred in the Arlington National Cemetery, with her husband at times and dates to be determined. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in her name to Germantown Friends School in support of the Lovida Coleman Scholarship Fund, which is an opportunity scholarship (contact Hannah Henderson, firstname.lastname@example.org, for details), or a charity of choice. Checks can be made payable to Germantown Friends School with “Lovida Coleman Scholarship Fund” in the memo line and sent to 31 W. Coulter Street, Philadelphia, PA 19144.