She said her husband, who grew up in Florida, graduated from Georgia Tech. As a licensed architect, he worked in commercial and residential fields before making a career out of building schools, she said. He found the work especially gratifying.
“He really liked planning the building for the needs of the program,” she said.
She recalled how he said that if he was having a bad day, he would sit down in a kindergarten class “because the kids are just precious.”
Before moving to Georgia for the APS job, Hardy worked for the school system in Collier County, Fla. It was there that the two met in a district cafeteria, she said.
Hardy’s work was at the heart of a big Atlanta building push to renovate old schools and open new ones. The projects have been funded through a one-cent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, known as SPLOST, that voters approved in 2016.
Among the most significant is a more than $50 million renovation and expansion of the David T. Howard building in the Old Fourth Ward. The sprawling brick building plays an important role in Atlanta’s history. It’s the school that Martin Luther King, Jr., attended as a child, and also where the city’s first black mayor, Maynard Jackson, and basketball great Walt “Clyde” Frazier went.
In a 2018 interview about the project, Hardy spoke about the district's desire to commemorate the site's connection to King.
The ongoing construction project will be complete in the fall, when the building will reopen as a middle school.
Other projects guided by Hardy include the $8 million Walden Athletic Complex, which features a practice field with skyline city views. Last fall, the district opened the new $30.5 million Tuskegee Airmen Global Academy, an elementary school in southwest Atlanta.
Carstarphen said that in addition to big-budget projects, Hardy paid attention to tiny details.
His APS colleagues also remembered him for the special care he took with everything from playground installation to new roofs and toilets.
One former Atlanta principal recalled how she mentioned to Hardy how much she wanted to hold meetings in her school’s conference room, but she had no budget. She said the next week, a van showed up with a table and matching chairs. Hardy had taken them from one of his own office areas.
“He always did the small work too with great care and attention as if it was a big project, including wobbly steps, wonky fences and rickety handrails. No project was unimportant. He was determined to help us get the lift we needed for our transformational work in our schools and facilities. I speak for many of his APS colleagues when I say he will be truly missed,” Carstarphen wrote.