William Thomas Hardaker Jr.
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Dr. William Thomas Hardaker, Jr.

Durham

Dr. William Thomas Hardaker, Jr., 73, of Durham, died suddenly at his home on Dec. 4, 2015.

Dr. Hardaker received a BA degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1963, where he was an active member of the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC). In addition, he was a four-year starter/letterman on the football team, serving as its captain his senior year.

As an aviator in the United States Marine Corps, he served in the Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA-323). He flew over 285 combat missions in Vietnam and Laos.

He attended Duke University School of Medicine from 1969 to 1973 and completed his orthopaedic residency training at Duke in 1979. After finishing residency, Dr. Hardaker became a member of the Duke orthopaedic faculty where his diverse clinical/teaching interests included pediatric orthopaedics/scoliosis surgery, spine trauma and sports medicine. One of his most significant contributions was his role as the Duke Orthopaedic Resident Program Director. In this capacity, he recruited and trained more than 250 orthopaedic residents. His unwavering dedication to the residency program earned him the endearing nickname "The Rock."

Dr. Hardaker always made time to be active in the community, serving as team physician for a wide variety of college sports, including Duke football, lacrosse and basketball. In addition to serving as an attending orthopaedic surgeon for the American Dance Festival, he also acted as team physician for two local high school football teams: the Southern Spartans and, most recently, the Hillside Hornets.

Dr. Hardaker was an active participant in Pediatric Outreach Clinics throughout North Carolina, including in Lumberton (Robeson County), Carteret, Sampson and Columbus counties. For his service, he was twice named Robeson County Physician of the Year.

Surviving are his mother, Gale Angas Hardaker of Washington, DC; Roberta "Bobbie" Hardaker, his wife of 48 years; his three children: Tracy Rankin of Nashville, TN, Ryan LaForce of Westport, CT and Mack Hardaker of Philadelphia, PA; his sister, Elizabeth Marsh, of Morristown, NJ; and his five grandchildren: Jack Rankin, Eleanor Rankin, Abigail Rankin, Sydney LaForce and Holden LaForce.

A visitation will be held at Howerton & Bryan Funeral home on Friday, December 11, from 4 to 6 p.m. and the memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, December 12, at the St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Durham. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the William T. Hardaker, Jr. Residents' Fellowship Fund, c/o Piedmont Orthopedic Society, Duke University Medical Center, Box 3706, Durham, N.C. 27710.

The Hardaker family is under the care of Howerton & Bryan Funeral Home. Online condolences can be made at www.howertonbryan.com
Published in The News & Observer on Dec. 6, 2015.
MEMORIAL EVENTS
No memorial events are currently scheduled. To offer your sympathy during this difficult time, you can now have memorial trees planted in a National Forest in memory of your loved one.
Memories & Condolences
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21 entries
November 30, 2020
A wonderful man who made a positive impact on me at a time in my life when i was struggling with my transition to college life. I will not forget his thoughfulness and understanding. All the best to the Hardacker family.
Mark Landon
Friend
October 26, 2016
Dr. Hardaker saved my life back in October 1983 when he performed Scoliosis surgery on me. I was 13 at the time. He told my parents prior to the surgery that if I had not had the surgery, I would have died within a month. From what I understand, back then, this surgery was still rather new and he was worried that I would not walk again, that I would be in a wheelchair for the rest of my life. But, thankfully, I was able to walk. Dr. Hardaker and his associates were extremely nice to me and my parents. He always made me feel like I was the only patient he had, which I knew was not the case. My condolences to his family on their loss of Dr. Hardaker. I will forever call him "The man who saved my life". Jennifer Sawyer Gore
Jennifer Sawyer Gore
Acquaintance
August 24, 2016
I just learned of Dr. Hardakers passing, my heart goes out to his family, friends, and colleagues. He was a brilliant doctor and I owe my life to him. He put me back together in 2001 from an ATV accident....... he will be forever in my heart and will always be my "rock"star!
Sandy Doss Ritchie
December 6, 2015
We are thinking of your family at this very sad time. Bill was a joy to be around. We shared some very wonderful moments in the stands watching Duke Lacrosse and at your home. He will be sorely missed by the many whose lives he touched.
Barbara and Tom Cassese
Friend
December 22, 2015
My deepest sympathy - Dr. Hardaker taught and role modeled professionalism to many other than physicians. Nursing and other support staff learned so much from him. Truly a legend.
margie Muir
December 22, 2015
A wonderful man who helped me as I struggled to find my place at Duke as a young freshman in 1971. I would not have made it without him and for his kindness, his understanding and his support.
Mark Landon
December 21, 2015
Bobbie. We are so sorry to learn of your loss. We hope the prayers and love of family and others will help you in the coming days. We love you and your family!
David and Denise Carr
December 12, 2015
Dear Bobbie and family,
I am so sorry to learn of Bill
s passing. My thoughts and prayers are with you Bobbie. You are surrounded by love and my hope is that you will have strength to carry on during this time.
Betsy Collie
December 10, 2015
Genie and I were stunned to hear of Bill's passing. Our hearts go out to his family, especially Bobbie. Bill was the most mature member of our medical school class. Intelligent, steady, thoughtful. No wonder he became such a great doctor and friend. Len Zwelling
Len Zwelling
December 9, 2015
Dearest Bobbi (and your family):

I was stunned to hear of Bill's so very unexpected death. I just heard from Dr. Katz (pediatrics previous division chief); we were having lunch together. I was stunned and so very sad for all of you. Michael thought so much of Bill and really loved the times that he got to work for and with him. They had a sweet and very respectful relationship.

I had great affection for Bill b/c of his work with pediatrics patients. He was a dear, dear man. And, yes ... he did have a few flying stories. But the stories were fabulous!!

I can completely tell you that I know how you feel (except for the suddenness of Bill's death) -- grief is a type of suffering that is not describeble until one has to travel that road. If you ever, ever need someone to share a coffee or anything else --- please feel free to email or to call me. I will get you my contact information in some fashion.

With affection for your dear husband. And in respect of his art and skill as a physician and a surgeon .... I am so very, very sorry for your loss.

Sending hugs and healing energy.
Ninna Burkill
December 9, 2015
Thinking of you all and sending love,
Mary Banks
Mary Banks Knechtle
December 9, 2015
Our condolences and prayers to Bobbie and the Hardaker family on hearing of your terrible loss, which the Duke, DA and Triangle communities feel alongside you.
Jim and Mary McLean
December 8, 2015
A very sad day for the Duke family, my heart is heavy. He was a "rock" in every sense of the word. In fact he was and will remain a Duke Rockstar in all of our collective hearts and souls. My condolences. Deanna Boyette
December 8, 2015
Deeply sorry for Dr. Hardaker's passing.
Judy Tulchin
December 8, 2015
Deeply saddened to hear the passing of such a wonderful man
My heartfelt prayers go out for the family, may you have peace.
December 7, 2015
Mack, I'm very sorry for your loss. I'm thinking about you and your family.
Nick Roberts
December 7, 2015
I began working with Dr. Hardaker in 1977 and he was always very nice, caring and easy going person. My thoughts and prayers are with the family.
Diane Cox
December 7, 2015
I enjoyed working with Dr. Hardaker in the Ambulatory Surgery Center for many years. He always had a special presence and he will be missed. I am so sorry for your loss.
Brett Dickinson
December 7, 2015
I loved working with Dr. Hardaker at the VA. He was Chief of Orthopeadics here the past few years and I saw him in our Ortho Clinics. He listened to me and took the time to share news about his dogs - we both love our dogs. He was funny - I loved his sense of humor - he made me laugh when I really needed to - and willing to do anything to help us make our clinic better. He had a special interest in the VA since he was a veteran himself (I did not know that - someone told me that he had several medals for his service in Vietnam!)He was humble and kind. He is such a loss to us and I personally will miss him terribly.
Nina Lee, Ortho Clinic Durham VAMC
December 6, 2015
I maintain the roster of the members of the Class of 1959 of Woodrow Wilson High School and was saddened to receive the notice of Bill's passing last week. My husband Frank (WW '58) played football with Bill and we still have quite a few members of the team that gather together with other alumni each year at a December dinner arranged by John Haddad (Class of '58). Bill's name often comes up. Please know that we, personally, and on behalf of the Class of 1959 and the athletes Bill played high school ball with, offer our prayers and condolences to Bill's mother, his wife, and his children and grandchildren. We know that we are saying goodbye to a man of many accomplishments. a good father and family man, and a well-regarded alumni of Woodrow Wilson High School. I have requested that notification of Bill's passing to be published in the next Alumni Bulletin.
Frank (WW'58) and Carol Studds (WW'59) Skinner
December 6, 2015
Dr Hardaker was a good man who I enjoyed working with. I will mourn his passing.
Eric Hegedus
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