Bob Hardey, Revered Leader Of Westlake, Dies At 66
By Brad Goins
Friends and colleagues remember Bob Hardey as a leader who took a no-nonsense approach to making difficult decisions that needed to be made. But, they say, he always made them in a manner both sensible and humane.
Robert “Bob” Hardey, who, until a few months ago, had been serving as the mayor of Westlake, died Jan. 29 after battling a recently discovered brain tumor. He was 66.
Hardey took office as mayor on Jan. 1, 2015, and was serving his second term at the time of his death. Before he was mayor, he served on the Westlake City Council for more than a decade.
Hardey was recognized as Outstanding Citizen of the Year by the West Calcasieu Chamber of Commerce in 2021. This recognition called particular attention to Hardey’s accomplishments as mayor during a time of hardship for Southwest Louisiana.
Hardey was born March 4, 1955, in Lake Charles to Jerry and Bobbie Hardey. He worked for United Gas Pipeline for 17 years, taking an early retirement in 1991. He worked for the next two years as the owner of Westlake Auto Tech. In 1993, he started working for Conoco as an instrument technician. He later became supervisor of the instrument department. He retired for the second time in 2013.
Hardey’s long civic career began when he served on the Westlake City Council for 12 years. He was elected mayor in 2014, taking office the next year. Four years later, he ran unopposed for a second term.
Hardey is especially well-known for taking over the administration of the city of Westlake when it was in a financial crisis in 2014. The city was more than $12 million in debt. To address the situation, he imposed a significant increase in the cost of monthly utilities. In response to the widespread opposition to this move, Hardey told citizens that if they would present him with another viable option to keep the city from sliding into bankruptcy, he would happily adopt it.
Hardey is thought to be largely responsible for a surge of prosperity the city has enjoyed in recent years. The city has paid off more than half of its 2014 debt. It recently paid for a new fire truck with $500,000 in cash.
Westlake is experiencing both housing and commercial development. The boundaries of Westlake have been moved to include the Isle of Capri and its forthcoming Horseshoe Casino. Also, the business of The National Golf Club of Louisiana has increased. A new clubhouse with a pro shop and a restaurant for the public have been built and paid for.
Lagniappe asked several governmental figures who’d worked with Hardey for their comments about his life and his work.
“He and I were very good friends,” said Bobby Letard of Recreation District 1 of Ward 4. “I loved him.”
“He was a very good mayor for the city; certainly in the right place at the right time. He could make very tough decisions but while showing a great deal of compassion.”
Former Westlake Chief of Police Jeremy Cryer said he had known Hardey his entire life. “He was a good friend. I miss him dearly.”
He feels that Hardey “is probably the only person who could have handled” the 2014 crisis. “I watched him never waver. He had no fear in getting the city back running. He was just a man for that time. He was a worker.
“He knew everything. He could have run the maintenance department” if it had been necessary.
“Bob had a passion and a heart for this city,” says current Westlake Chief of Police Chris Wilrye “He made sure the city was thriving. He wanted to make sure all the departments worked together.”
In addition, “he wasn’t afraid to step up to the plate and make those tough decisions.
“He got us where we are today. The city is thriving.
“We’re definitely going to miss him.”
Family Man, Coach, And Biker
In addition to his governmental work, Hardey served on numerous boards, including the Louisiana Municipal Association and the West Calcasieu Parish Community Center Authority.
He also served as a recreation coach for baseball, softball, and basketball.
Hardey is survived by his wife, Janice Peck Hardey, who was married to him 47 years. The two had three children — Janae Hardey, Jared (Tammy) Hardey, and Jamie (Keith) Stout — and seven grandchildren: Blaine and Braiden Carlin, Ian, Evan and Beau Hardey, and Kohen and Carder Stout.
Hardey is also survived by his father, Jerry Hardey, and four siblings, Jerilyn (Bobby) Mayo, Michael Hardey, Linda (Billy) Nordt and Don (Rhonda) Hardey. He was preceded in death by his mother, Bobbie Hardey.
In what spare time he had, he enjoyed relaxing with his family, taking trips on his motorcycle, and playing golf.