In the first wee hour of a Sunday morning, Jeanette Allard Hastings, 83, slipped away from this world as gently as she moved through it throughout her life. Here where the lives of the powerful and famous and infamous are recorded, hers is a quiet story of success that does not make front page news. She mastered the art of the life well-lived, built on a foundation of unwavering faith, fueled by a mission of being God's hands in the world, and distinguished by that rare understanding of what unconditional love looks like in human form.
Born at home on February 1, 1919 to Phyllis Ragsdale and Ray Harpine Allard, a tenant farmer in Vienna, Illinois, she was the first of five children. At the age of 13, she lost her father to a sudden illness. Her mother took the young family under her wing, and became a beloved schoolteacher until she retired at the age of 77, still 23 years before her death.
A summer with her Aunt Pearl in Hot Springs, Arkansas was particularly cherished - their days were filled with the music of her cello and Aunt Pearl at the piano. During these warm days, too, dreams of becoming a religious journalist formed in Jeanette's mind. But her uncle set a more "practical" course for her, paying for tuition at Hillman Junior College so she could become a teacher. Over the years, in journals and even on odd scraps of paper, it was clear that her instincts toward religious writing never left her. She thought and wrote in inspirational tones all her life.
While teaching elementary school in Harrisburg, Illinois, Jeanette was also pianist at First Baptist Church. A handsome minister was called to the church, and much to their mutual embarrassment, a former pastor introduced them, saying, "Rev. Hastings, I'd like you to meet your future bride, Jeanette Allard." On June 30, 1942, the pastor's prediction came true when she married Carroll Brownlow (C.B.) Hastings of Forth Worth. "I have been blessed these sixty years of marriage," Jeanette wrote this past June, "living with a theologian, my husband, whose life has been steeped in the study of the scriptures..."
Her husband took her from Illinois to live in Georgia during the war while he was a WWII chaplain. Seminary training took them to Kentucky; then our "Yankee" became a naturalized Texan, adopting Dallas as another hometown. After 1970, the family moved to Atlanta and Memphis before returning to Texas four years ago.
She had five children, just enough to ensure neverending laundry, overflowing grocery carts, and reliable chaos on any given day. But it is to the task of mothering that her gifts shine brightest. She had a heart for children and even after hers were long out of the house, she continued to write about and study childrearing. She loved her children, each in their own peculiar way, but her love extended beyond blood ties. If you have crossed her path, she has brought you in to her concerns, worried about and prayed for you, loved you as much as anyone could.
Although a preacher's wife, and even one among the first women deacons in a SBC church, Jeanette knew what mattered most in God's eyes. "I'm not sure but what it's more important to care for neighbors in need than to attend one more church meeting," she'd say. Shortly before her death she wrote, "Perhaps the most effective witness is done unconsciously, coming naturally from a life lived." For one who loved this life as God has given it, who could see beauty at every turn or make beauty in the rough places, her effective witness was done unconsciously - it was her breath, her being, and now our treasured legacy.
She is held in loving memory by her devoted husband, Dr. C.B. Hastings of Pflugerville, and her children: John Hastings of Austin; Larry Hastings of Dallas; Nancy Hastings Sehested of Clyde NC; Abigail Hastings of New York City; and Roger Hastings of Dallas. Shizue Kaneko Fukuda of Tokyo, Japan is her daughter-by-heart. Also dear to her are daughters-in-law Helen and Marilyn and son-in-law Ken. Her rather adorable grandchildren are Jessica, Alayna, Trevor, Nate, Sara, Whitney, Allyson, and Julie. We are blessed by surviving members of her family: Gertrude (Trudy) Allard Taylor of Harrisburg, IL; Mary Ellen (Sunny) Allard Wheeler of Glendale, CA; and Dr. George Allard of Flora, MS. She was preceded in death by her brother Ray, and by her grandson Ryan.
A memorial service celebrating her life will be held on Saturday, November 9 at 5:00 pm at Highland Park Baptist Church, 5206 Balcones Drive in Austin. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in her honor to Habitat for Humanity, Austin TX 78702-4450 or by making a donation to the Jeanette Hastings Memorial Fund at Highland Park Baptist Church.
Last Updated: February 11, 2001