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by Terri Hogan
Senior Staff Writer
The community is shaken and shocked by the sudden death on Sept. 2 of Walter F. Hardy, Sherwood High School’s athletic director.
Hardy, 50, had only been at Sherwood since July 1, but had deep ties throughout the county as an educator, coach and athletic administrator.
Prior to coming to Sherwood, he worked at Kennedy and Paint Branch high schools.
Sherwood Principal William Gregory said Hardy was alone in the school’s weight room unloading cases of Gatorade when he collapsed.
“It’s just devastating and such a shock,” a shaken Gregory said. “It’s really just so sad.”
He said Hardy was a highly respected educator who had impacted many students in the Paint Branch, Kennedy and Sherwood communities.
“In his short time here he really made an impact,” Gregory said. “He had a really large personally and really drew people in.”
Because Montgomery County Public Schools athletic directors work during the summer, Hardy and Gregory had spent a lot of time together “just talking about life,” the principal said.
He said that Hardy had just moved to Olney a couple of weeks ago.
“He was excited to be at Sherwood and was looking forward to making a difference in the lives of the students here,” Gregory said. “When we were interviewing for an athletic director, people said Walt was just what the Sherwood community needed. He was such a warm, kind and caring person.”
The Sherwood football team played its home opener the night before, defeating Col. Zadok Magruder High School, 44-0.
“Walt was so excited about the football game and it was his idea to have a two-for-one admission to the game so the students could bring a friend for free,” Gregory said. “It was a huge crowd, probably one of the largest I have seen in years.”
Gregory said students were notified of Hardy’s death the day he passed away through a telephone tree and he sent a letter to students and parents the next day.
On the first day of school Sept. 5, Gregory said the school community was in shock, but they gathered together in remembrance of Hardy.
“That’s one thing, probably the biggest thing, that I love about Sherwood — how the community here takes care of one another, in good times and in bad,” he said.
Paint Branch Principal Dr. Myriam A. Yarbrough sent out a letter to her school community notifying them of Hardy’s death.
“It is with deep sadness and regret that I inform you of the sudden loss of Walter F. Hardy ‘85,” she wrote. “Mr. Hardy was a true and dedicated Panther. His long-standing connection with PBHS began as student, basketball player, volleyball player and football player in 1981. As an adult, Mr. Hardy returned to his cherished community and served as Social Studies teacher, Technology Education teacher, varsity basketball coach, volleyball coach, football coach, assistant athletic director, mentor and friend.”
For the past two years, Mr. Hardy served as athletic director at Kennedy High School.
According to the obituary published by Borgwardt Funeral home, Hardy leaves behind his wife, Mary Hardy; children, Olivia and Chase Hardy; parents, Fred and Margo Hardy; brother, Dan Hardy, and many other family members and friends.
Visitation was held Sept. 8 at Borgwardt Funeral Home in Beltsville.
A Celebration of Life was held Sept. 9 at Paint Branch High School in Burtonsville.
A memorial fund in honor of Walter F. Hardy can be found at www.walterhardy.org
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