Christopher R. Harding, for some 20 years the authoritative voice for the arts in the Dorchester Reporter and a scholar whose passion for Shakespeare animated his teaching career, died on on Dec. 22, 2016, at age 68. The cause of death was given as a malignant brain tumor.
A graduate of College du Leman International School in Geneva, Switzerland, Mr. Harding, widely known as “Chris,” also attended school in Argentina. He was a summa cum laude graduate of Yale University and later earned a PhD from Harvard University.
Applying his education in, and passion for, William Shakespeare, Mr. Harding taught undergraduates at UMass Boston for 10 years, male prisoners at the Suffolk County House of Correction for much of the same time, and senior citizens at the University of Massachusetts Boston’s Osher Life-Long Learning Institute.
He served as president of the Dorchester Arts Council, directed Broadway plays at the Strand Theatre, was an arts and entertainment reporter for Neighborhood Network News in Boston, and for a variety of Dorchester newspapers, including the Dorchester Reporter over the last two decades. Over a quarter-century’s time, he had a local theatre review feature on NPR affiliate WUMB-FM.
“When we connected with Chris back in the mid-‘90s,” said Reporter publisher emeritus Ed Forry, “we knew from reading his work that our readership would be getting first-class tutelage in the arts on our pages. His dedication to the works of local artists on the make and to doing his part to spread the word of their efforts was a gift to the people of Dorchester.”
Mr. Harding’s last column for the Reporter, published on Nov. 10, was typical for the way he tied local talent into the larger world of the arts. He featured a Dorchester local teenager, 13-year-old Journey King, and wrote about her starring role in the Wheelock Family Theatre’s production of “Akeelah and the Bee.”
It was shortly after that that Mr. Harding told Reporter Editor Bill Forry that he was going to be in the hospital so he wouldn’t be submitting his articles for a while.
Much of the final third of Mr. Harding’s life was geared to the Men’s Movement. He organized national men’s events, edited the national “Wingspan: Journal of the Male Spirit,” and oversaw the production of the anthology “Wingspan: Inside the Men’s Movement.” His other books include “A Cop’s Cop” and “Yale Trivia.”
Deeply committed to his community, Chris was a volunteer cook at the Paulist Center’s Wednesday Night Supper Club, and was actively involved in his home parish, St. Teresa of Calcutta in Dorchester.
The son of the late Anneliese (Semar) and Robert A. Harding of Wellesley, Mr. Harding leaves his brothers Peter X., and his wife Kethi (Maw Naing); Fr. Nicholas J. OMI; Luke J. and his wife Conni (Neal); and Mark H. Harding, and many loving nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews, cousins and a wide circle of devoted friends and colleagues.
His funeral Mass will be said on Thurs., Dec. 29, at 10 a.m. at St. Margaret Church of St. Teresa of Calcutta Parish, 800 Columbia Road, followed by a reception at the church and burial at St. Mary’s Cemetery, Needham.
In lieu of flowers, the family invites donations for the poor in the mission of Peru where Chris’s brother, Fr. Nick serves: US Province, Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate - 120 Michigan Ave., NE Washington, DC 20017, check memo “Peru Delegation - Chris Harding Memorial.”