NEW SHARON — A longtime Franklin County  commissioner was remembered Monday as a dedicated public servant who was frugal with taxpayers’ money and had a strong work ethic. Fred Hardy was also a staunch supporter of getting the county jail back under county control.

Hardy, 85, of New Sharon, died Saturday at Maine Medical Center in Portland. He had been ill for several weeks.

Hardy was a county commissioner serving District 2 for about 22 years, county Clerk Julie Magoon said Monday.

“I truly enjoyed working with Fred over the past 18-plus years,” she said. “Fred worked nonstop for his district and also the whole county, serving on numerous committees and boards. There was hardly a day when Fred wasn’t on the road, with (his wife) Ruby of course, attending a meeting or a public hearing. Fred had a great sense of humor and wit, and always had a story to tell . . . which usually led to another story. He was just a great person and friend. All of us here at the county are going to miss him. It just won’t seem the same at our commissioners’ meeting tomorrow without him.”

Hardy was very active in many organizations and boards within the county, Maine and beyond.

He was a retired dairy farmer and had served as a supervisor for a local shoe manufacturer, according to his biography on the Greater Franklin Development Corp. website. Hardy was a founding director of the corporation.

“We will miss him greatly,” Alison Hagerstrom, executive director of the corporation, said. “He was a strong advocate for GFDC. When I accepted the executive director’s position for GFDC, I was advised not to underestimate Fred’s leadership . . . I never have.”

Hardy had also served as a New Sharon selectman, member of the Planning Board and on the Franklin County Budget Advisory Committee when he was a selectman.

“I was very saddened to hear of Fred’s passing,” Farmington Town Manager Richard Davis said. “He was a dedicated public servant who always worked in the best interests of his constituents. I served on the Greater Franklin Development Corporation Board with Fred, and I know firsthand how conscientious he was. He will be greatly missed.”

“My deepest condolences to Ruby and his family,” County Sheriff Scott Nichols Sr. said. “Simply put: I will miss Fred Hardy. I have the deepest respect for Fred. Regarding his position as a county commissioner, he never minced his words. You always knew where he stood and what he thought.

“Fred was a wonderful resource for me,” Nichols said. “His institutional knowledge of county operations was invaluable during my first few years as sheriff. Fred was a close ally during our battles with the state Board of Corrections and was someone I could confide in at any time.”

Nichols said he remembers the day, earlier this year, when he told Hardy that the Board of Corrections had agreed to allow the county jail to reopen and be fully operational. The jail had been a 72-hour holding facility since 2009 and was returned to a full-time jail in April.

“He was as giddy as one could get over the phone,” Nichols said. “On our rides to and from (Board of Corrections) meetings in Augusta, I remember Fred telling me stories of his youth as a farmer, working at different farms in Maine as far back as the 1940s, and the rigors of farm life back then.”

He brought that same work ethic as a board member of the Commissioner’s Office, Nichols said.

“When Fred was hospitalized I would visit him there and keep him updated on all that was going on at the jail because he truly cared,” he said. “Other than being in a hospital room, you would never have known he was ill because he still was as quickwitted as ever, and always ready to talk about politics regardless of whether it was a local, state or national event. Franklin County has lost a true public servant and whoever replaces him will have large shoes to fill.”

Sen. Thomas Saviello, R-Wilton, said he has known Hardy for nearly 20 years.

“Fred was a friend,” he said. “He was an advocate for Franklin County. He was critical in (bringing) the county jail back to county control. He will be missed.”

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