Login | November 28, 2022

Longtime Legal News IT consultant remembered

Legal News Reporter

Published: August 12, 2022

A master of many trades, entrepreneur Gary C. Hardman made a name for himself as a go-to website designer and IT consultant in the legal news industry, playing a key role in automating and maintaining the operations of many publications, including those at the Akron Legal News and its sister papers.
“Gary and former Akron Legal News President and Publisher John Burleson developed our websites and worked to streamline our operations between the courts and the papers,” said Akron Legal News Vice President and Publisher Bob Heffern.
“Gary also handled all our IT issues,” said Heffern. “Over the last few years, he’s been helping us transition to a new IT group, K5Data.net, owned by Nick Kallas.
“Gary was a good friend and my golf partner at Summit Senior Golf of Akron,” said Heffern. “He did a lot for the Akron Legal News.”
“Gary had an outstanding reputation for his legal publishing knowledge from the IT and programming side of things,” said Hardman’s friend and colleague Akron Legal News General Manager Jason Croston. “He worked with many legal publications on many programming projects around the country.
“When COVID hit we were forced to have the capability to work remotely,” said Croston. “Like many other businesses we were not prepared for this challenge and we couldn’t have done it without Gary’s knowledge and insight.”
On June 16, the Silver Lake, Ohio resident passed away at the age of 73.
“My dad and I worked together for many years,” said his eldest child, Doug Hardman. “He was a very smart man, who was always present when you needed him.
“If you ever had a problem or needed someone to fix or build something, he was there. He loved helping build things. I learned how to do a lot of things by working with my dad.”
“What I admired most about Gary was his unselfishness and his willingness to help people,” said Croston. “He would do anything for anyone. He will be truly missed by everyone that knew him.
“Gary was a great business associate, mentor, friend and person,” said Croston. “He was an integral part of my life.
“I will miss our conversations, dinners at Darby’s (his favorite restaurant), golf trips and most of all, his friendship.”
Hardman’s friend Trent Maxwell said he was a “big brother/father figure” to him.
“Gary was fantastic to me and all my friends,” said Maxwell. “Whether he was working or at home, he was always there if you needed help with something no matter what time of the day.”
Born in Warren, Ohio on April 21, 1949, he was Robert and Louise Hardman’s only child.
While attending Howland High School, Hardman started working for his father at the family business, Hardman Photography. After he graduated high school, he became full time at the company, which he took over in the late 1980s.
“My dad was a talented artist in his own right and a very talented photographer, but he never fully took the leap into art,” said Doug.
“I thought our dad was a brilliant individual,” said Geoff Hardman, his second eldest child. “His talents spanned many areas. For example, he could design a staircase for his home on the back of a napkin at a restaurant and the next day start building it.”
In 1990, he closed Hardman Photography and began handling sales for various printing companies around Ohio, including Gazette Printing.
Nine years later, Hardman went into partnership with Dan Timmerman and his son Doug, starting Silver Creek Ltd.
“We primarily built websites and came up with creative ways to publish data on the Internet,” said Doug. “One of our clients was the Akron Legal News.
“When we started working with the paper all the data they received from the courts was input manually,” said Doug. “We worked with them to automate the process and get the data on their website in a way that would allow them to sell subscriptions.”
Hardman later reorganized the company under the name Black Creek Solutions, which he ran from his home.
Kimberly Pierson, general manager of the Daily Legal News in Youngstown first met Hardman in the mid-1990s when she was working at the Akron Legal News.
“Gary was intelligent and thorough,” said Pierson. “He loved working with computers and always kept up on the latest technology.
“After we purchased the Daily Legal News in Youngstown, Gary was instrumental in setting up our computer network, website and databases.
“He was a very friendly guy and he loved golf,” said Pierson. “We golfed together on several occasions at Mahoning County Bar Association outings. He was always willing to offer a golf tip or demonstrate his latest golf gadget.”
In addition to northeast Ohio, Hardman’s legal publishing clients were located in Chicago, Pittsburgh and Charlotte, North Carolina.
“My wife and I have family in Charlotte, North Carolina,” said Croston. “Back in 2004 we went for a visit and I told Gary about how much we liked the city and that we might be interested in making a move. 
“He made a few phone calls and the next thing I know he had a job lined up for me with Charlotte’s legal newspaper, The Mecklenburg Times.
“It was in Charlotte where he and I discovered that we shared another passion in golf.
“When he traveled down south we would always schedule our in-office work projects around the weather to make sure that we got our golf in.”
After Croston and his family returned to Ohio in 2008, he and Hardman partnered up in a golf league at Roses Run Country Club in Stow with many of their friends.
“Everyone loved playing with Gary and talking golf, putters and life with him after the round,” said Croston.
Hardman’s love of putters led him to become an avid collector of golf clubs and to take on a consulting role at Windmill Golf Center in Macedonia.
Maxwell was a minority owner of the center.
“The facility does custom fittings of golf clubs and Gary worked on some of the fittings, along with setting up our original website and serving as our IT guy,” said Maxwell.
“For more than 15 plus years, we went to the PGA merchandise show in January,” said Maxwell. “He took care of all the arrangements,” said Maxwell.
“I will forever be in Gary’s debt for all that he did for me and the facility,” said Maxwell.
Hardman also worked as a club fitter at other local pro shops and country clubs.
At Hardman’s request, no funeral services were held.
Hardman is survived by his son Douglas (Julia Kipnis) Hardman and his four grandsons; his son Geoffry Hardman and his daughter Lindsey (Todd) Nickoles.