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John Webster Hardwicke Sr., who in 1972 was elected to the first Harford County Council, later served 11 years as Harford County Council President and was the state’s first Chief Administrative Law Judge of the Office of Administrative Hearings, died Christmas Eve at Harford Memorial Hospital in Havre de Grace of pulmonary fibrosis. He was 82.

The longtime Harford County resident is remembered by friends and associates as a venerable judge, law maker, lawyer and professor.

In 2002, Judge Hardwicke capped an illustrious career with his retirement as chief administrative law judge, an appointed post he held for 12 years following his service on the Harford County Council.

“He was both a patrician and a populist,” recalled Jeffrey Dirk Wilson, a fellow Republican who succeeded Hardwicke as county council president in 1990, adding, “that made him a very special public figure.”

Wilson characterized Judge Hardwicke as a “visionary” who came into elected office at a time when Harford County was still under the control of Dixiecrats.

“He was really the standard bearer for the Republican Party in many ways,” Wilson said. “He really stood in the forefront. He was part of the Republican group in the early ’60s who ran very successfully on reform and equal rights.”

Habern W. Freeman, a Democrat who was Harford County Executive from 1982 to 1990, recalled Judge Hardwicke’s instrumental role in the formative years of the Maryland Environmental Service.

“I sat next to him when he was on the county council,” Freeman said. “I remember that he was pretty much involved in getting the MES started. He spent much of those early months in the early ’80s ... really digging in and working with the waste treatment situation, which was an absolute mess at the time.”

Those who knew Judge Hardwicke say he was an even-keeled leader, who utilized his analytical and meticulous nature to the benefit of the county.

Jack McLaughlin, editor of the Harford Business Ledger, spoke of Judge Hardwicke’s steady demeanor, and how he was known for his lawyer-like and scholarly approach to solving problems.

“I can’t recall John Hardwicke ever raising his voice or losing his temper as council president,” said McLaughlin, who covered many of Hardwicke’s meetings as a government beat reporter for The Aegis in the mid-to-late 1980s. “He was sometimes criticized for nitpicking or being too cautious but I think he was often playing devil’s advocate. He looked at legislation from a lawyer’s viewpoint because that’s what he was.”

Freeman remembered Judge Hardwicke as “very sophisticated.”

“Of course, being a lawyer, he was very legal minded,” Freeman added. “Being a politician, he was pretty formal — straight-laced, if you will.”

Born in Winston-Salem, N.C., on April 10, 1927, Judge Hardwicke entered the University of North Carolina, by examination, in June of 1943, and after completing three years in the fall of 1945 began teaching Latin, English and history in public schools in North Carolina.

After completing his degree at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, in 1950, he worked toward his master’s degree in ancient history before ultimately entering law school.

In 1953, not long after he graduated from the George Washington University School of Law in Washington, D.C., Judge Hardwicke was admitted to the practice of law in Maryland.

He was elected as a member of Maryland’s Constitutional Convention from Harford County, a position he served from 1967-68.

In 1972, he was elected and served on the first county council under the newly-approved home rule form of government as a member at large until 1974.

In 1978, Hardwicke was elected Harford County Council President, a position he held for 11 years, and was a dominant force in shaping the local government’s policies in that period, including the 1982 zoning review.

Being on the receiving end of awards and receiving the praise of his peers happened frequently in Judge Hardwicke’s life. Shortly before stepping down from his position as county council president, the judge was presented the Friend of Education Award by officials of the Harford County Education Association.

In 1993, he received the ‘93 fellowship award by the National Administrative Law Judges Foundation and received a $1,000 stipend, which he donated to the Office of Administrative Hearings Library.

Judge Hardwicke also received the Johns Hopkins Alumni Association Excellence in Teaching Award at the School of Continuing Studies homecoming program in April 1998, after more than 40 years of teaching business law and related courses at the school.

The excellence in teaching award came in recognition of “his many years of outstanding teaching in our undergraduate program,” according to Antoinette Ungaretti, assistant dean and the director for the Division of Undergraduate Studies at Johns Hopkins Universities.

A writer himself, and a fan of poetry, Judge Hardwicke authored several law reviews and co-authored a textbook, along with Robert Emerson, “Business Law,” on the subject. The book became the standard textbook of the university, and is in its fifth edition.

Wilson, who considers Judge Hardwicke “a mentor in politics to a generation of us who came into office in the ‘90s,” recalled Judge Hardwicke as a man of culture who enjoyed Emily Dickinson, among other literary figures.

Wilson said Judge Hardwicke was like Aristotle in that he held fast to the ideal of politics as “a noble cause.”

“In that way he was exemplary,” Wilson said.

In addition to his parents, Judge Hardwicke was preceded in death by his wife, Mary, in 2001 after a marriage of 52 years, and by his brother, James. He is survived by his six children, Jill Lounsbury and husband Myron, Sandy Child, Christine Sydnor and husband Russ, John Hardwicke Jr. and wife Terri; Heidi Emerson and husband Robert; and Tim Hardwicke and wife Laura; as well as 17 grandchildren, one great-grandchild, Wyatt Sydnor, and his devoted sister, Eileen Bodenheimer, of Winston-Salem, N.C.; and several nephews and nieces.

The family will receive friends at the family home today (Tuesday, Dec. 29,) from 6 to 9 p.m. Interment will be Wednesday (Dec. 30) at 10:30 a.m. at Darlington Cemetery. A memorial service will follow at Deer Creek Harmony Presbyterian Church beginning at 11 a.m. (Route 161 at Harmony Church Road in Darlington). A luncheon will be served in the Silver Room of the church after the service.

Memorial gifts may be sent to Deer Creek Harmony Presbyterian Church, P.O. Box 321, Darlington, MD 21034, or a charity of your choice.

Evans Funeral Chapel and Cremation Services, of Bel Air, has handled the funeral services. Memorial tributes may be sent to www. evansfuneralchapel .com.

Aegis copy editor Patrice Dirican contributed to this story.


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