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Stop 41: The 2007 Roy and Martha Hardy Trail

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AUDIO NARRATION*
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Hardy Trail named for Roy Thomas Hardy and Martha Hardy.

     The Hardy Trail has become a mainstay in the language of Dade City. Do you know the origin of the name?

     Well, Roy Hardy was the owner of Hardy’s Department Store on 7th Street. He and his wife Martha were revered and memorialized in the memory in Dade City. Truly they were self-made and self-less individuals.

      Roy grew up in Brooksville and worked part time at the Rogers Department Store in Brooksville. (Some might remember that store as it spawned the Rogers Christmas House, and held a special place in Hernando history.)

     After serving in the U.S. Army, Roy returned to retail work at the Lingle’s Store in Brooksville in 1947. He shared that one day a salesman was visiting Lingles and mentioned a vacant store space in Dade City on 7th Street that would make a great mercantile retail store. With the help of Robert Reynolds Lingle, his boss, Roy and Robert purchased the building. He and his wife then moved to Dade City in 1949. 

     The Hardy & Lingle’s store was a great success and eventually Roy bought out his partner. For thirty-six years he operated the retail store. Sometimes known as the Clothier at 419 North 7th Street. In 1949 he opened Hardy’s Department Store and sold the business in 1984, upon his retirement.

    The couple acclimated very quickly to Dade City. Roy was involved in every aspect of the town’s development. He played on the city Baseball team, served on the Chamber and Kiwanis club boards. He was elevated to a district governor of Kiwanis.

    During this tenure, Roy and Martha became known as people you could really count on. They were philanthropic care givers of Dade City, and were often the impetus of many community efforts to address needs. He particularly enjoyed preparing a delectable feast for a fundraiser or celebration. The feast often included cheese grits and a fish fry or barbecue. He explained that his father relished hosting a picnic and he had learned the large-scale barbecue style from his dad. The couple’s deep benevolence may have grown from a personal experience; their daughter, Ann was afflicted with polio at age three. It was a tough time for the couple who were emersed with her care. They were proud to report that she persevered and lived a full life. 

    At a celebration for them in 1963, Jim Tabb said, “I know of no other couple who have so unselfishly committed themselves to helping the needy in the community and to improving the community itself.”

     The couple developed the Hardy Benevolent Trust Fund as a testimonial, administered by a citizen’s committee, and spearheaded benefits from the time they arrived in Dade City. The town designated May 14, 1983 as Roy and Martha Hardy Appreciation Day, and they were presented an appreciation award from then Florida Governor Bob Graham. 

     In an interview with Juliet Greer in 2003, the Hardys’ said that their fundraisers had netted more than 1.5 million throughout the years and had gone for projects to pay medical bills, replace wrecked cars and flooded homes, and cover rent and food bills for needy folks. Reluctantly they admitted they had held 300 fundraisers. At that same interview Roy credited his wife of 61 years as the motivation and behind the scenes worker. 

The marker at the beginning of Hardy Trail reads: “The Hardy Trail: Martha & Roy Hardy, Dedicated the 13th Day of February, 2007 by Kiwanis International; in honor of Martha and Roy Hardy for their many years of service and dedication to our community.” 

The trail is a paved multi-use recreational trail that follows part of the bed of the former Seaboard Coast Line Railroad tracks.  Adjacent you will see Next Stop 43, the Spoke.

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