Beloved husband, father, and grandfather, L. Winston Hardman peacefully passed from this life on Tuesday, July 12, 2023, after a period of declining health. His loving wife Carol was by his side.
Winston was born in Orlando, Florida, on December 6th, 1929, the eldest child of L.W. (Shine) and Genevieve Eaddy Hardman. Growing up, he learned the value of hard work in his father's citrus business, while also developing a deep appreciation for the great outdoors. He fished, hunted ducks, and swatted mosquitoes in the natural beauty of Florida, from New Smyrna Beach to Boca Grande.
After graduating from the University of Florida, where he played the piccolo in the Gators’ marching band and was a member of the ROTC and Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, Winston served in the Army at Fort Jackson during the Korean War. Following his military service, he returned to the family citrus business in Orlando before pursuing further studies at Southwestern Baptist Seminary. There, he discovered his passion for ethics and developed his strong belief in social justice. He found his calling in campus ministry, dedicating his life to serving and mentoring college students in Arkansas, Florida, and North Carolina.
After retirement in 1994, Winston found joy in working part-time as a miller at Mingus Mill in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for fourteen years. He greatly enjoyed meeting and visiting with park visitors from all over the world.
Winston was a lifelong sports fan, rarely missing a Gators' football game and faithfully listening to Braves game broadcasts even in his last days. He had a deep appreciation for music, particularly New Orleans Jazz and Bluegrass. The Smoky Mountains were Winston’s happy place. He enjoyed the quiet simplicity, from the rivers to the mountaintops, and hiking the trails between. He rarely wanted to be anywhere else, except when he felt the irresistible call of his other special spot, New Smyrna Beach, Florida. No matter where he roamed, Winston had a remarkable knack for turning strangers into friends.
Winston will be remembered as a loving husband, a dedicated father, and a cherished grandfather. His legacy of kindness, compassion, and friendship will live on in the hearts of all who knew him.
Winston is survived by his loving wife of 56 years, Carol Hardman; daughter Alisan Royster (Keith); son Bill Hardman (Eva Rupp); grandchildren Jackson, Grant and Sarah Royster, and Theodore and Kai Hardman; brother Jim Hardman (Ronnie); and foster brother, Cotton Vreeland (Marjorie). He was preceded in death by his parents and sisters, Norma Hardman and Sylvia Hardman Bergert.
The family will hold a private celebration of Winston’s life at a later date. In lieu of flowers, contributions in his memory can be made to Friends of the Smokies (friendsofthesmokies.org) or the Marine Discovery Center in New Smyrna Beach, Florida (marinediscoverycenter.org).