“When I think about him, I think of him as an encourager, very supportive, always pushing people to do more,” said Felicia Brunson, vice mayor of West Park.
Hardwick died at Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood on May 22, four days after suffering a stroke. He was 41.
Brunson said Hardwick's pas- sion was to get people to help one another and he was always “com- ing up with the craziest ideas.”
“One of the things he would say was that we have to stop acting like a bunch of crabs in a bucket,” she said.
Thus, CrabWear was born. Hardwick created a t-shirt with an image of crabs trying to get out of a bucket. Some crabs would pull others down, while others were pushing crabs up.
“Whenever you had someone who was trying to move up, there was always some entity or other trying to bring you back down,” said long-time friend Verbin Grier. “The things happening in the neighborhood drove him, I think, todowhathedid.Hewassoin love with his neighborhood that he wanted to do something.”
“John set a standard, even in the barber shop. We would go in there and just hang out but he made sure that if you were in there, you were learning something,” said Brunson.
Hardwick's shop, Fresh Cuts Barber Shop, at 708 Foster Road in Hallandale Beach, became a center for peo- ple to come together and discuss issues
with him as facilitator.
“It was strange back then, to have women sitting in the barber shop. But, we would come together and talk about relationships, careers, religion, goals, every- thing,” said Brunson.
Hardwick's desire to improve community relationships led him to start Positive Brothers and Sisters, along with Brunson and Grier. PBS, as it was called, brought together young men and women at different venues to discuss myriad issues.
“We'd go to these hotels and at first we would separate the men from the women. Then, we would take down the partition and have these panel discussions. It was just such a nourishing environment,” Grier said.
Hardwick was running his own business by the time he was 19. He exemplified community activism by seeking to improve the lives of those around him. He battled a trash transfer station and served on the Hallandale Beach Chamber of Commerce board of directors.
He also founded a group called Top Shops in 2000 that sent 20 area youth to see Freedom Train, a musical about Harriet Tubman. In 2004, he served on the panel that chose the Palms of Hallandale as the northwest area's new name.
By all accounts, it was his com- passion and drive that will be remembered the most.
“The last time I saw him was at the ribbon cutting ceremony for [West Park] City Hall. He came up to me, gave me a big hug and said, 'Sis, I'm so proud of you,’” Brunson recalled. “This weekend (of May 27) was actually my birthday weekend and he had already called me. Again, he said, 'I love you, sis, and I am so proud of you.’”
Hardwick is also survived by brothers Richard Hardwick and James Hardwick of Broward County, daughter Breahna Hardwick of Jacksonville, and mother Lillie Beachem Rosier of Hallandale.
Services were held.