Former Milford alderman remembered as pillar of community, especially the Irish

(L) Niall Burgess, Consul General of Ireland joins 2010 Milford St. Patrick's Day Parade, (R) Grand Marshall Martin Hardiman and his wife, Linda, Sunday, March 21, 2010, marching along the parade route near Milford Town Hall.

(L) Niall Burgess, Consul General of Ireland joins 2010 Milford St. Patrick's Day Parade, (R) Grand Marshall Martin Hardiman and his wife, Linda, Sunday, March 21, 2010, marching along the parade route near Milford Town Hall.

Hearst Connecticut Media file photo

MILFORD — The city has lost one its most steadfast supporters, a military veteran known for his service in local government and his role in the Irish-American community.

Martin Hardiman, 74, a former longtime alderman, Board of Education member and a founder of the Irish Heritage Society, died March 5 — leaving many in the city remembering him as a “pillar” of the community.

“He made a huge impact on our community, and this city is in a state of mourning right now because he was an alderman,” Mayor Ben Blake said about Hardiman, who spent years running the city’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

“He made some big impressions on our community that are going to reverberate for a long time,” Blake added.

Hardiman lived in Milford for 49 years, spending 18 years on the Board of Aldermen, five years on the Zoning Board of Appeals, six years on the Milford Board of Education and 10 years as an elected constable working for the Milford Tax Office.

“He was first elected to the Board of Alderman with me when I ran for the first time in 2003,” said Blake. “He was a friend to everybody, and to know Marty is to like Marty.

“He had an affable way about him, where he made everybody smile,” Blake added. “Above and beyond that, he used that affable way to make things happen, and he helped energize our community’s causes to do good things in town.”

Born April 16, 1947, to the late Martin and Elizabeth Doherty Hardiman, he was a Vietnam Air Force veteran and a member of the VFW Post No. 7788 in Devon and the American Legion in Rocky Hill.

The Board of Alderman held a moment of silence in honor of Hardiman at its meeting March 7.

“Alderman Hardiman was a dedicated public servant who will be sorely missed by all,” said board Chair Philip Vetro.

James Richetelli, Milford Public Schools chief operations officer, fondly recalled the many years he worked alongside Hardiman.

“Although we were on different sides of the aisle, mutual respect and friendship always transcended everything before us,” he said.

“The amazing traditions we enjoy here in Milford regarding ‘all things Irish’ are largely due to Marty’s vision, hard work and dedication,” Richetelli added. “My heart goes out to (his wife) Linda and all of Marty’s multitude of friends. I will greatly miss him.”

Hardiman was a founding member of the Irish Heritage Society of Milford (IHSM), serving as its president and vice president.

“IHSM was founded in 2006, and as president, Marty took a lead role in growing the club and its well-respected reputation in the city of Milford,” said Tim McNamara, the society’s current president.

“Marty will be remembered as a man with a huge heart who always put his country and community first,” McNamara added. “He was a pillar of the community that will be missed by many people even more than they realize.”

One of Milford’s most famous events — the St. Patrick’s Day parade, the latest of which will be held Saturday — was created through the Irish Heritage Society with Hardiman at the forefront.

“He was the parade chairman, and the parade really happens each and every year, up until this year, because of Marty and his wife, Linda,” said Blake. “They were the people who got the parade going, kept it running and made it into what it is today.

“The parade is going to be a tribute to Marty for his work as the chair of that parade,” Blake added. “The parade is this Saturday, and please wear your green in honor of Marty Hardiman.”

Hardiman was the Milford St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee chairman for three decades.

Michael McCabe, who is now the St. Patrick’s Day Parade organizer, said he feels inadequate trying to replace Hardiman.

“There is a hole in the heart of the Milford Irish,” he said. “Marty was front and center in so many activities we worked on such as the clubhouse, the Irish Festival and the parade.”