Jack Lee Hardwick, longtime Baltimore trial lawyer, dies

Mr. Hardwick practiced law for 60 years and was a World War II veteran who flew on missions in Europe.

Jack Lee Hardwick, a World War II combat veteran and local trial lawyer who practiced for about 60 years, died of arterial sclerosis Jan. 22 at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Towson.

The former Homeland resident was 89.

Born in Uniontown, Pa., he was the son of Joseph Hardwick, a salesman, and Edna Whyle, a homemaker. After moving to Baltimore, he graduated from City College in 1943. While in high school, he worked in a drugstore to help support the family.

He enlisted in the Air Force in early 1944 and trained in air gunnery school at Fort Myers, Fla. At age 18, he became a tail gunner on B-24 Liberator bombers flying combat missions over the north Apennines, the Po Valley, Rhineland and in Central Europe as part of the 15th Air Force based in Cerignola, Italy. He flew on 14 combat missions.

On April 8, 1945, he was awarded the Army Air Medal with the Oak Leaf Cluster. He left military service as a sergeant in 1946, then became an officer in the Air Force Reserves.

He returned to active duty in the Judge Advocate General Department at Langley Air Force Base near Hampton Roads, Va. He completed his military service as a first lieutenant.

After leaving the service, he earned a bachelor's degree at the University of Maryland, College Park, where he also helped support his family working as a bartender at the Rendezvous Inn.

He continued his studies at the Johns Hopkins University and earned a degree from the University of Maryland School of Law in 1951. He was a member of Delta Theta Phi, a law fraternity. Mr. Hardwick then passed the Maryland Bar.

He met his future wife, Michaelene Vaeth, at a party in Severna Park. Their meeting was arranged by family members.

Mr. Hardwick practiced law with Joseph Carmody and Benjamin Earnshaw, and he later founded the firm of Hardwick & Harris on Charles Street in downtown Baltimore.

He tried cases in state and federal courts for about 60 years. He worked until 2013.

"My father got along with everybody — judges, lawyers, the young and the old asked for him. He treated everybody with such respect," said his son, Clifford L. "Cliff" Hardwick, with whom he practiced. "He was the consummate old-school gentleman lawyer ... with an infectious smile and ability to bring civility and reason into complex and contentious problems.

"He had a calming effect during a tense situation," his son said. "He was the voice of reason and fairness. When the things get particularly contentious, he had the temperament, skills and knowledge."

"He was always a positive guy who had an upbeat, friendly way. He was easy to like and easy to be around," said former Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr.

"He was well regarded and highly qualified to discuss the merits of a case before a judge or jury," Mr. Curran said. "Jack was an outstanding attorney and litigator in insurance work."

"He was a cheerful fellow, always smiling. He had a kind word ready," said the Rev. Guy Hawtin, canon of St. Stephen's Anglican Church, where Mr. Hardwick was a member. "At the end of his life, he bore his illness with incredible fortitude. He was a most impressive man."

Family members said he had a summer home in Bethany Beach, Del., where he spent some weekends. Nevertheless, he preferred to work at his office in downtown Baltimore.

"He was a downtown guy," his son said.

Mr. Hardwick participated in Maryland and Baltimore City Bar Association activities and served on the Attorney Grievance Commission's review board.

He also served on the city's Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation. Family members said he had an eye for architecture and was a student of historic structures in downtown Baltimore.

"He could not stand to see beautiful buildings being taken down," his wife said. "He was diligent about his service on the commission. He really liked it."

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at St. Stephen's Anglican Church, 11856 Mays Chapel Road in Lutherville.

In addition to his wife of 62 years and son, survivors include two daughters, Noel Siebert of Bethany Beach and Lynn Evans of Westfield, N.J.; a sister, Shirley Hughes of Rochester, N.Y.; and seven grandchildren.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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