by KELLEY GUSICH | photos by Spark Photography



family_hardes3In August 2015, Lilita and Gerry Hardes left the cold Milwaukee winters behind for new adventures in San Diego. Their son Charles was a Marine Corps officer in Camp Pendleton, and his experience prompted him to encourage the whole family to come to America’s Finest City! Charles is a University of Wisconsin and Oregon State graduate, now employed as a software engineer for a local military contractor. His wife Theresa is a physical therapist in Poway; they have two sons: Charlie (4) and Nathanael (3). Charlie just finished preschool at St. Michael’s and will attend kindergarten next year at Chaparral Elementary in Poway, whereas Nathanael will attend a local Montessori program.

They live in Vista Del Lago in RB, where Gerry and Lilita now live as well – less than half a mile from the grandchildren. Charles also convinced sister Elisa to come after she graduated from Chicago’s Columbia college. Elisa is a clinic manager at University of California San Diego and a certified nutritionist, teaching a weekly nutrition class at Poway Adult School. Her fiancé Mark Hepler was a lifetime Lakeside resident. As a collegiate golfer at University of San Diego, he now works for Adidas golf. They live in Point Loma and are planning an October destination wedding in Costa Rica. “It is wonderful being close to the entire family,” Lilita smiled. “We were able to start new family traditions such as weekly dinners, going to Big Bear in December for snow sports, camping and hiking along the Pacific Crest Trail, and of course, taking the grandsons to Padres games, Legoland, the Safari Park, and the museums at Balboa Park.”


Parent: Gerry and Lilita Hardes
Children: Charles Hardes and Elisa Hardes
Grandchildren: Charlie (4) and Nathanael (3)
Community: Vista del Lago in Rancho Bernardo since Aug. 2015
Parents’ Hometowns: Gerry and Lilita lived in the Milwaukee, WI area for 36 years; both are originally from South Dakota
Parents’ Occupations: Gerry – Retired Dec. 2016 from FIS; Lilita – closed her counseling practice upon their move to RB
Pets: Lifelong cat owners but currently pet-less
Favorite Places to Visit in 92128: San Dieguito Parkway/Lake Hodges, Rancho Bernardo Community Park, the restaurants in Rancho Bernardo Town Center, Oaks North Golf Club, and Bernardo Winery


“It is wonderful being close to the entire family,” Lilita smiled.

family_hardes5Lilita and Gerry met during a college sociology class at the University of South Dakota. Lilita then counseled children and families for 36 years before her retirement, whereas Gerry worked as a business analyst until his retirement in 2016. As one way to get to know her community, Lilita took a Writing Books for Children course at Poway Adult School, which resulted in the publication of her own children’s book. A Fraidy Cat was inspired when Lilita’s grandsons met her own new cat. The book introduces comparisons to young readers, and can be enjoyed by all those who are young at heart and who own pets being newly introduced to young children. Lilita is excited to share the book with her community on Aug. 19 at 2 p.m., when she will be part of a local author book signing at the Mira Mesa Barnes & Noble. She hopes you and your children enjoy the book while she is enjoying her new home with family in Rancho Bernardo!