Ardist was born on Nov. 7, 1918, in Peru, Neb., to Luther Spencer and Leona Nevada Christian.
She and her three siblings grew up near there where her parents ran a boarding house for college boys.
It was at Peru State where she met Dean France McCormick of Syracuse, and the two married in 1939, and moved to Sioux Center, Iowa.
There they began their teaching careers and family. Teaching in Iowa and Illinois, they retired to Albia, Iowa, to be closer to grandchildren.
Ardist, never one to sit idly at home, soon returned to the schools as a substitute teacher.
Dean passed away in 1980, and in 1992 she married Ray Willard. They spent their winters in Texas and their summers in Minnesota, holding hands wherever they went.
Ardist passed on Jan. 3, 2013, near Stillwater, Minn. She was truly a bright light in the lives of all she knew, and her spirit and lessons are woven into the character of those who loved her.
Ardist is survived by husband, Ray Willard, son Mike McCormick and wife Penny, daughter Carolyn Knupp and husband Steve, grandchildren Monty, Jeff, Melinda, Jody, and Spencer, and their spouses.
She is also survived by 11 great-grandchildren and sister-in-law, Ruth Wilhelm, Syracuse.