Herbert Olen Hardwick was an outgoing and valued team player.
If you were a Citadel graduate searching for your lost class ring, the school would have suggested you contact Herbert Olen Hardwick.
Sometimes, Hardwick, known to most as Olen, searched for a ring that belonged to the person.
Other times, he searched for the person who belonged to a ring.
Hardwick worked as a trades specialist in maintenance at MUSC, but he spent many off hours combing Lowcountry beaches with his metal detectors, his wife, Paula Hardwick, an MUSC nurse, says.
He found a couple of Cita-del rings on Folly Beach and two or three more on the Isle of Palms; a Harvard University football coach’s ring on Isle of Palms; and an heirloom diamond engagement ring and wedding band on Folly.
He returned those and many other pieces of jewelry.
Hardwick, who was born April 22, 1950, and died Oct. 13, never once asked for a reward, she says.
It upset him to hear that someone had found something significant but did not search for its owner, she says.
Metal detecting, racing and socializing with friends were passions.
On those weekends when Hardwick wasn’t looking for metals, he might be found at Darlington Raceway.
Many nurses on the seventh and eighth floors at MUSC, where he worked, and their families are NASCAR fans, Paula Hardwick says. They would take tents to Darlington, camp out and tailgate for a couple of nights. He was firmly in Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s camp.
While Hardwick stuck to grilling hamburgers, hot dogs and occasionally steaks at Darlington, he was a very able cook. “Oh man! Could he cook? He did all of the cooking in my house,” Paula Hardwick says.
“That man could put a swing on anything you wanted to eat. He would always enter the chili cook-off here at the Med U. I think he came in second one year.”
A great co-worker
Vanessa Jackson describes Hardwick as a big brother at work. Together, they fixed broken ceiling tiles and toilets, repaired baseboards, painted and did small wiring jobs, she says.
“I am good at fixing commodes, a little bit better than he was,” Jackson says. “He was good at helping me with changing out ballasts and things on wiring jobs. He also was a good Gamecock buddy. You could battle him all day long about the Gamecocks.”
The maintenance shop honored that passion by having a Gamecock statue made for him and placing it on his coffin.
They also had his name and birth and death dates put on the side of their work truck.
Fred Miles was Hardwick’s supervisor.
Hardwick was knowledgeable, dependable and everybody’s friend, Miles says. He was the type of co-worker who recognized and greeted everyone who walked down the hall.
He would always share metal detecting and NASCAR stories with co-workers, Miles says. They didn’t just know the co-worker, they knew the person.
“He loved his job and the people just loved him,” Miles says.“He is sorely missed.”
Reach Wevonneda Minis at 937-5705.