More than one year ago, Columbia County lost its longest-serving county official, Pat Hardaway.
County officials honored her memory Wednesday by unveiling a portrait of her to adorn the halls of both county courthouses.
“You think of her being just and fair and compassionate,” Chief Superior Court Judge J. Carlisle Overstreet said at a ceremony held in the courtroom Hardaway always used inside the Columbia County Justice Center in Evans. “She was a great patriot, not only for this country, but this county.”
Hardaway, who served the county for 47 years and spent 30 years as its Probate Court judge, died July 15, 2011.
She was a strong-willed woman who took her role as judge very seriously and always had the betterment of the county and state in mind, Commission Chairman Ron Cross said.
“She really had Columbia County deep in her heart from the first day I met her to the last,” Cross said. “For that, Columbia County owes her a great debt.”
Hardaway’s portrait will hang inside the Probate Court office she oversaw. A second portrait will hang in the Columbia County Courthouse in Appling, which she worked to preserve.
“Without Pat, that place would not be like it is today,” Overstreet said. “It is a great preservation of a historical structure.”
Hardaway’s family, including her husband, Doug, and daughters, Penny Saggus and Pam Postell, attended the ceremony.
“We know Mom would be both honored and humbled by this,” Saggus said. “We thank y’all for remembering her. We all know she loved Columbia County and we think it showed in her 47 years of service.”
Hardaway’s family, friends and colleagues at the ceremony shared stories of how she affected their lives.
State Rep. Lee Anderson said Hardaway helped him obtain a marriage license, one he forgot, on his wedding day 31 years ago. County Emergency and Operations Division Director Pam Tucker said Hardaway presided over her wedding.
Current Probate Court Judge Alice Padgett said she and the Probate Court staff had Hardaway’s blue robe set into a shadow box and hung inside the court hearing room.
“We just thought that would be something really special to do with her robe in her honor,” Padgett said. “I didn’t follow in her footsteps. I got a black robe. I can’t fill her shoes; I certainly can’t fill her robe either.”