John Ceah Hardwick Sr.

January 25, 1937April 17, 2021

John Ceah Hardwick, Sr.

On January 25, 1937, John Ceah Hardwick was born to Herbert Nathaniel Hardwick and Johnnie Mae Choates Hardwick in Savannah, Georgia, where his father was a high school teacher and founded a construction company and his mother was a gifted homemaker and managed the accounts for the construction company. John was the youngest of four siblings (Mercedes Winona; Herbert Nathaniel, II; and Dolores Ann) and attended Savannah public schools. He completed the Sacramental Rite of Confirmation at St. Matthews Episcopal Church in Savannah. He was only ten years old when his mother became ill and passed away. Thereafter, he moved to Newport News, Virginia to live with his sister Mercedes and her husband Augustus Palmer. John graduated from Huntington High School and, following in the footsteps of his father and great aunt, went to Hampton Institute (now Hampton University), where he met the love of his life and future wife, Elsie M. Moseley.

After the Korean Armistice Agreement formalized an unsteady cessation of the Korean War, John was drafted into the US Army and selected for study at the US Army Defense Language Institute at the Presidio of Monterey, California. He finished at the top of his class, emerging fluent in Korean. He served for one-and-a-half years in an Army intelligence unit at the Korean Demilitarized Zone on classified missions that furthered the United States/South Korea Mutual Defense Treaty.

Following his return from Korea, John and Elsie resumed their courtship and married in Richmond, Virginia on July 21, 1962. The newlyweds moved to Washington, D.C. and were soon blessed with a daughter, Karen Michele, and a son, John Jr. In December 1968, the young family moved to Columbia, Maryland, a new town founded by James Rouse with a stated mission to unify residents across racial, religious and class differences and to innovate in education, recreation, religion, and health care. John’s foresight in steering the family to Columbia benefited them greatly, as they thrived amid Columbia's open classrooms, interfaith centers, youth sports, and then-novel health maintenance organization (HMO).

John and Elsie developed early professional interests and aptitude in the nascent fields of information technology (IT) and enterprise information management systems in the 1970’s. As the digital revolution unfolded through the 1980’s and 90’s, John ascended to positions of increasing management and executive responsibility in the private and public sectors, culminating in his serving as Chief of Information Systems for the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) of the U.S. Department of Justice, where he applied his forward-thinking intellect to solving the challenges of enterprise security and data management. Notable career highlights included being a participant and invited panelist at the Aspen Institute and working with Bill Gates and Michael Dell on mission planning, IT system architecture, and IT resource management for the benefit of the BOP. John was a principal architect of the BOP’s state-of-the-art, secure digital fiber infrastructure that linked all correctional institutions, offices and staff together and the information system that supported the day-to-day operations of the federal corrections system. In recognition, John received the Attorney General’s Award for Excellence in Management for “management and technical skills directly responsible for substantially improving the Bureau’s information systems.” He retired in 2005 as a member of the Senior Executive Service.

John was a devoted husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, and friend. He was an active partner with Elsie in the raising of their children Karen and John Jr., both law school graduates, and an enthusiastic and full supporter of Elsie’s career as a member of the Principal Staff at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. John spent countless weekends as a “soccer parent” supporting John Jr; was an avid and prodigious reader of history, biographies, and non-fiction; and was a renowned BBQ grill master. Drawn to the Low Country of his youth, John started a four-decades-long tradition of summer vacations on Hilton Head Island, SC, where he became affectionately known as the “Mayor of Hilton Head.” He enjoyed many close friendships and was thrilled at the blending of family and friends into a vibrant extended family that enjoyed holidays and vacations together and supported each other through life’s successes and challenges.

John and Elsie enjoyed 58 years of marriage and laughter, delighting in being parents, grandparents, and uncle and aunt. After an extended illness, John passed peacefully, surrounded by family on April 17, 2021.

John is survived by his wife Elsie, daughter Karen (Adrian Gardner), son John Jr. (Maureen), granddaughter Emerson Lily, sister Dolores Martin (the late Dr. Harold B. Martin), and many nieces, nephews, cousins and dear friends. He was predeceased by his sister Mercedes Palmer (Augustus L. Palmer Sr.), brother Herbert Hardwick, II (Drusilla) and nephew Augustus L. Palmer, Jr.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in memory of John C. Hardwick, Sr. to:

COPD Foundation 3300 Ponce De Leon Blvd Miami, FL 33134

Or to make a donation online, go to


No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.


John Ceah Hardwick Sr.

have a memory or condolence to add?

Sonya Thompson

April 27, 2021

So sorry to hear of John's illness and passing. He was a force within the Bureau of Prisons and his vision for the agency's IT environment is still evident today. He was also a great mentor who taught me the values of strong leadership, including how to handle crises with humor and grace; as well, how not to take myself too seriously.

I hope he's now at peace but his legacy will remain. Thank you John.

Roger and Marsha Donahue

April 26, 2021

We were blessed to join the Hardwick family when Maureen and John began their relationship many years ago!
Those who have had the pleasure of knowing and loving this remarkable family also knew it was a very big tent! So many, always welcoming and joyful.
Our family had the pleasure of joining John’s family several times on Hilton Head. The numbers of relatives and dear friends were vast. Any gathering required more chairs, huge quantities of food, active children and either the beach or a pool. We were always delighted to meet friends and relatives of John and Elsie.
The Mayor of Hilton Head indeed!
We drove down to Chevy Chase the day Emerson was born. John greeted us at the hospital and it was clear he was completely in love with his first granddaughter, “She is the most beautiful baby girl you will ever see”. We didn’t disagree with his assessment!
We loved the twinkle in John’s eye when he kidded with many folks as well as his obvious swelling of affection bestowed upon family and friends. John and Elsie shared their friends and family with great generosity and delight.
John was without question a wonderful gentleman. His achievements were many.
Our hearts go out to Elsie, John, Karen, Maureen, Adrian and Emerson. We also send our deepest condolences to the many members of family and friends who shared the vast love of John and his family.
John Senior, irreplaceable and unforgettable, we will so miss you.
Much Love,
Roger & Marsha

Roger Connelly jr

April 26, 2021

Mr. Hardwick was like a second dad to me growing up on Rosinante Run in the 1970's. I was always welcome in their home and I have so many wonderful childhood memories involving their family. He will be missed and my world will not be the same with him gone from it. My condolences to his wife (who was also like a second mom to me), his daughter Karen, and my best childhood friend John.

Lorri Cerro

April 25, 2021

Mr. Hardwick was one of my favorite neighbors. I always felt welcome in their home and looked forward to his quick wit and excellent stories. My deepest condolences to his family as I know how terribly he’ll be missed. (Photo with my mother and his wife and from their daughter’s wedding in 2012.)

Tracey Love

April 25, 2021

Mr. Hardwick was a man we ALL respected, admired & loved. He mentored each of us & always shared words of wisdom. Our accomplishments & successes we owe to him. We are truly grateful and it was an honor to work for Mr. Hardwick in OIS.

To the family, my prayers & sincere condolences. Thank you for sharing him with us. He leaves a lasting legacy that will not be forgotten.

Lamont Easter

April 24, 2021

In the federal Agency John dedicated many years of his life to, it is customary to say in a professional sense that a person is your “Daddy” or “Momma.” Meaning, this person took you under their wings, mentored, guided and protected you on your career path. Well, John was my professional "Daddy.” And he singly had the most significant impact upon my professional career. In addition, he broke me of the nasty habit of putting the two personal pronouns “I and Me” first in speech (e.g., “Me and John are going to a meeting” as opposed to “John and I are going to a meeting” He hated that with a passion! LOL Now, so do I!). Thanks for that John! And for so much more! John impacted me in so many ways and will always be remembered fondly in my heart. Until we meet again my friend.

Roger R Connelly

April 24, 2021

John was my neighbor for 50 years. Had 2 children, a girl & a boy, just as I had.

He was a very forgiving person. Once I accidentally caused damage to his car - never got a bill or a harsh reprimand.

He will be missed.

Roslyn Miller

April 21, 2021

John was a great friend and neighbor in Bryant Woods, Columbia, MD. He was kind, caring, humorous and brilliant! He knew no strangers and was a wonderful listener to all who needed help and advice. John was a loving husband and father and a wonderful role model! He will be missed by everyone.
Roz Reed Miller
Shelby Twp.,MI