Like his contemporary Otto Greco, whose birthday we celebrated yesterday, Ed Hardies was an Amsterdam native who had a trade that he could have practiced and done just fine with in his life. But like Otto, he was willing to take that extra step and make the extra effort necessary to go into business for himself.
He was born in Amsterdam, NY on October 8, 1926. He graduated from Amsterdam High School in 1944 and then joined the US Navy. It was in the Navy that he took classes in electronics, did really well in them and realized he could make a career out of it.
He married an Amsterdam girl, Nora Mae Koch in 1947, they had their first two children and then Ed got called back into the Navy during the Korean conflict. He then went to work locally as an electrician. By 1959, his family had grown with the addition of four more children and he decided it was time to go out on his own. He began Hardies Electric that year and with a family of eight to support, worked his rear end off making sure it succeeded. And it did.
Hardies focused on electrical contracting work more than residential and that’s really how he grew his business. He also took an active role in his community’s affairs, getting elected to the Greater Amsterdam School Board and serving three terms. He was a Mason, an Elk, a member of Rotary and the Green Hill Cemetery Association.
In the early seventies, Amsterdam Mayor John Gomulka asked him to serve as the City’s Commissioner of Public Works, which he did for four years. He was also the City’s Water commissioner for a short time before returning to Hardies Electric to help his youngest son Sean, who had by then taken over the business. In 1974, his oldest son, Dr. Michael Hardies called upon his Dad to help him build the new Medical Center he opened in Troy, NY and Ed ended up managing that facility for his son for the next dozen years.
As if he didn’t have enough to keep him busy, Hardies also invested in and developed several properties in Amsterdam, including both the Highland and Holland Garden Apartment complexes. Whenever he could squeeze in the time, he absolutely loved to fish and hunt and he cherished the annual chartered trips he’d take into Canada with Sean and a bunch of his buddies to do both.
Unfortunately it was a hunting accident that slowed him down physically when Ed was in his sixties. Sean Hardies told me that his dad never fully recovered from it. He died in 2001 at the age of 74. In addition to his wife and two sons, he left behind four daughters who he absolutely adored and fourteen cherished grandchildren.