BOLIVAR – Robert Hardy racked up 33 years of public service for the town of Bolivar, where he lived most of his life.
A native of Loudoun County, Va., he served as the town’s police commissioner, town councilman, the recorder and as its mayor for six years. He also served as treasurer of the Harpers Ferry/Bolivar Public Service District for more than 30 years.
Hardy died at 78 on Saturday.
Town administrator Laura Whittington said it would be hard to name only one of Hardy’s accomplishments and that his death leaves a “huge hole” in the town.
“I worked with him for 11 of the 33 years he was involved with the government here,” she said. “He was a legend in town. A wonderful, passionate and strong-willed man. He always had the best interest of the town at heart.
“It’s like losing a member of my family,” said Whittington, who has served as the town’s administrator for 15 years.
Hardy, who moved to Bolivar as a newlywed before taking a job with Dixie-Narco in Ranson, also owned Jason’s Antiques, which he opened in 1991 to entertain a lifelong interest in old clocks, furniture and Civil War memorabilia. He also worked at Hazelton Research in Reston, Va., and helped oversee a program on primate research.
Helen Dettmer, who took over as mayor following Hardy’s retirement in June of 2015, said Hardy would regale every visitor to his store with his tales. “He had so many stories,” said Dettmer, 70. “People would stop in there all the time.”
In a 2015 interview following his decision to retire as mayor, Hardy said the town of Bolivar had come a long way.
“When I started with the council, Bolivar really wasn’t much of a town,” Hardy said. “The council met in the jail for their regular meetings. We had nothing, but we’ve become a pretty progressive town.”
Whittington said Hardy should be credited with much of the town’s progress. She said he fought for the town to get the WVU Harpers Ferry Family Medicine Center and he started the work to get the Bolivar Children’s Park and community center developed. He also helped get donations to the Friendship Fire Co.
“He had so much knowledge of this small town,” Whittington said.
Dettmer said the town named a street Robert Hardy Way in honor of his service. “He had such a generous heart,” Dettmer said.