By: Emma Wheeler | WCTV Eyewitness News
February 9, 2018
Valdosta, Ga. (WCTV) – Valdosta city employees honored one of their own Friday with a celebration of life for a man who dedicated two decades to the city.
From trash pick up, to tractor driving, and everything in between, Ernest Hardwick spent 20 years serving Valdosta in public works. He retired in 2009.
"He was a good guy, kept you laughing. We did all sorts of stuff together, me and him," said Charles Brantley, former coworker and nepher-in-law to Hardwick. "Basically everybody knew about him, he wasn't a stranger to nobody."
"He was a giver, he loved to give. He would give people his last," said Norvell Kinchen, another former coworker and friend of Hardwicks for decades.
Hardwick passed away last December at 71 years old in a Homerville nursing home with no means of returning to Valdosta.
"You don't want to see nobody go out like this, and if it wasn't for the city, and the men and women at the city, when we got together and gave money to try and get him a proper burial," Brantley said.
Former coworkers stepped up and raised money, and on Friday held a celebration of life. A caravan of city cars paid tribute to Hardwick's years of dedication.
"It means a lot, it means a lot to have him back here and bury him in his hometown, it means a lot," Brantley said.
A joint effort with two other city employees, Gloria White and Lawrence McCoy, and City Councilwoman Vivian Miller-Cody, the team showed how Valdosta is the city without limits, and a city showing unlimited compassion.
"It's not just coworkers, everybody become kind of a family," Brantley said.
"Valdosta is a blessed city, I don't care what nobody says," Kinchen said.
Hardwick was laid to rest Friday at the St. Phillip Pallbearer Cemetery in Valdosta.