DEER ISLE — The town of Deer Isle lost a faithful public servant Oct. 10.
Neville Hardy, who had served as selectman for 47 years, was 81.
The Deer Isle native was a U.S. Army veteran who worked in a lumber yard, served as a sheriff’s deputy for a time, drove a school bus and owned a general store.
Hardy and Bill Haviland of Deer Isle had been friends since they were children.
“Neville devoted his life to the welfare of this town and its people,” said Haviland. “His knowledge of both was unsurpassed. I remember telling him that when he stepped down from the selectboard, the town would have to hire a manager.”
Indeed, the town hired its first manager, Jim Fisher, in 2018.
Former Deer Isle Town Clerk Rebekah Knowlton remembers Hardy fondly.
“Many people thought of Neville as the stalwart guardian of tradition, always skeptical of progress,” Knowlton said. “Rather than a negative, these attributes provided a stability to the Town of Deer Isle. Hardy recognized that the beauty and value of Deer Isle lies in the people, community, and heritage—not in policies, regulations and expansion.”
“He worked to preserve what was important, not to circumvent growth,” Knowlton said. “It was a privilege to work with him. He was a very real gift to the Town of Deer Isle. Our island is a better place because of him.”
Maine Municipal Association featured Hardy in a 2009 edition of The Maine Townsman.
Hardy, according to that article, had advocated that the town of Deer Isle conduct its first-ever property revaluation in 1969.
“We found a lot of land and structures that we had no way of knowing who even owned them,” Hardy told the Townsman.
Hardy is also credited with starting office hours for residents at the town office. While he owned a general store for a time, Hardy wouldn’t conduct town business there.
The Townsman included a laundry list of Hardy’s civic work, which included road commissioner, volunteer firefighter, member of the Hancock County Budget Advisory Committee and the island’s representative on the county’s 911 committee.
“I like helping the people,” Hardy told the Townsman.