Roy T. Hardy: compassionate businessman, farmer and philanthropist

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Roy T. Hardy: compassionate businessman, farmer and philanthropist

October 02, 2017 - 22:45
Roy T. Hardy with his wife Martha,  photo courtesy of Ann Hardy Roberts

February 3, 1923 to Sept. 19, 2017

Well known for his philanthropy and fish fries down in Dade City, Roy T. Hardy got his start in Brooksville. He was born February 3, 1923 in Alexander City, AL to Daniel H. and Tensie (Hillard) Hardy, Sr. In late 1923, his family moved to Brooksville, FL. He attended Hernando High School and represented the Leopards in baseball and football. While still in high school, he worked at Rogers Department Store, across the street from Weeks Hardware. On Sept. 26, 1943, he married a young lady from Spring Lake, Martha Elizabeth Blackburn. Martha was one of eight children born to John and Sarah Elizabeth Allen Blackburn.

The couple then went to Georgia, where Roy was stationed in the Army. He served during WWII as an Army Sergeant. In 1947, they returned to Brooksville, both resuming work at Rogers Department Store.


Storefront of Hardy & Lingle Department Store in Dade City FL, circa 1948 photo courtesy of Ann Hardy Roberts

In 1948, they moved to Dade City to open Hardy’s & Lingle’s Department Store. Roy bought out Mr. Lingle in 1949 and the name of the store changed to Hardy’s Department Store. His motto always was “Sell to Sell Again.” Many longtime residents of Dade City recall purchasing their prom tuxedos, shoes and school clothes at the store.
Mike Agnello, recalled, “Mr. Hardy was one of kind. From getting my school shoes and clothes from his store as a child to adulthood, I will never forget the man or his good deeds. I can imagine Roy showing the Lord himself the proper way to stir cheese grits. The thought of Roy and Martha being together again in Heaven is very heartwarming.”
Mr. Frank Dobson stated, “Mr. Hardy was a wonderful, compassionate, caring and trusting Southern Gentleman. He was always so very nice to my Mom and me when she shopped at his store. Once when four other guys and myself were starting a gospel music group, he put us all in matching suits and allowed us to pay for them over time. He has my greatest respect in every way.”

In 1985, he and Martha retired and closed the store to focus on farming and his cattle, returning to the experiences of Roy’s formative years in Brooksville. There, he grew up on a farm, caring for animals, gardens and citrus. “After they closed the store, Mama would sit in a truck and keep an eye on him while he cut and baled hay! She was at his side until the day she passed away,” said the couple’s daughter, Ann Hardy Roberts.

Roy loved to quail and dove hunt. A close friend asserts that he had the best dove fields anywhere. His love of flounder fishing in his younger days with family and friends, made way for a long lasting community benefit that bore his name. He was known for his “Roy Hardy’s Fish Fries” and “Chicken Dinners” to raise money for families needing help with medical needs. He also coordinated the Kiwanis Fish Fry for their annual fundraiser to help local children in the community.

During Roy’s lifetime in Dade City, he was on the Selective Service Board for 11 years; the Dade City Baseball League; a member of the Member of Director, Past Vice President and now an Honorary Member of Greater Dade City Chamber of Commerce; Past President of Downtown Dade City Main Street Assoc., a member of the American Legion Post 15; A lifetime member of the Pioneer Florida Museum; recipient of the prestigious Richard Tombrink Lifetime Achievement Award, Outstanding 69 years of perfect attendance membership in the Dade City Kiwanis Club, where he served as the President, Vice President; he served as Lt. Governor and Governor of Kiwanis for the Florida District in, and was inducted into the Florida Kiwanis Hall of Fame 2013. He and many local men in Dade City, Lacoochee and Trilby started the “concerned citizens of Dade City” to help people in need. In 1985, the Kiwanis club had a Roy & Martha Appreciation Day and Hardy Benevolent Fund was organized to help families with medical needs. He has received numerous other awards for his dedication and community service from other clubs in the Dade City and San Antonio area. He was a member of the First Baptist Church in Dade City.

A graveside service was held last Saturday Sept. 23, 2017 at Floral Memory Gardens in Dade City.

In lieu of flowers, Roy’s family requests donations to Cornerstone Center for Women 37522 Meridian Ave., Dade City, FL 33525; Dade City Kiwanis Club, P.O. Box 353, Dade City, FL 33526-0353; or your favorite charity in Roy’s memory.