On what would have been Corries Hardy’s 50th birthday, family and friends honored his life on Sunday in Bethesda with a short prayer and by singing “happy birthday” and releasing butterflies into the air.
Hardy, who owned the food truck Hardy’s BBQ with his wife, Roxie, died by electrocution on June 27 at the age of 49. His death prompted an outpouring of support from the community, including a GoFundMe page that has raised more than $61,000 to help the family.
Hardy’s family held a funeral for him in his home state of Florida shortly after his death.
Sunday’s ceremony was held at the Bethesda Farm Women’s Cooperative Market, where he would fire up his barbecue smoker on Fridays and Saturdays. Friends and family socialized and ate a cake decorated with the message “Happy birthday Corries. We miss you so much.”
Roxie Hardy said on Sunday the ceremony was to celebrate her husband’s life and hopefully create a sense of peace. She ordered the butterflies from California for the occasion.
The butterfly release, she said, was an alternative to releasing balloons, which is not allowed in Montgomery County.
“Butterflies bring peace and harmony,” she said.
Roxie Hardy said she received “a lot of love” from the Bethesda and Chevy Chase communities since her husband’s death, and she is “managing day to day,” although it hasn’t been easy.
“Today, earlier, it was kind of hard. But, overall, I’m doing pretty good,” she said.
Roxie Hardy plans to resume operating the truck in Montgomery County in the fall. Previously, the Hardys did business from the food truck in Bethesda and a brick-and-mortar location in Bowie.
Hardy’s cousin Donna Freeman said the last couple of months have been difficult, but Sunday’s ceremony brought some measure of closure.
Freeman, who lives in College Park, said her family often made the short drive to Bowie on Sundays to have dinner with Hardy at his house.
“He’s very active with the family, and it’s very difficult not physically seeing him around and being able to laugh and see that smile,” she said.
Hardy was a member of the 1991 University of Miami football team that won an NCAA championship. On Sunday, Freeman wore a shirt with a picture of him wearing a Miami shirt. Her shirt said “God has added an Angel.”
Hardy had a connection to many people in Montgomery County. Arne White of Germantown said she started going to his food truck about five years ago. She described him as “one of the happiest men” she met.
“Corries would be out here just smoking it up all the time. His wife would be handling all the logistics with the truck. And it just became an instant family,” White said.
White said Hardy’s barbecue was “always juicy” and “fall-off-the-bone good.” He made three different barbecue sauces from scratch, she said.
White said Hardy’s BBQ was one of the few establishments in the D.C. area that serves authentic barbecue.
“He put his own little southern spin on it, and I think that was something that just took it over the edge,” she said. “It wasn’t just one type of person that came to them. It was every type of person you could think of that wanted his food.”
Sarah Libby of Bethesda remembers meeting Hardy one Saturday a couple of years ago before the COVID-19 pandemic started.
“He was just so warm, and he always had a smile on his face. You just wanted to be near him,” she said.
Libby said that after a hiatus, Hardy was back at his smoker on the Saturday before he died.
“It felt like that bit of normalcy that we had missed for so long,” she said. “It really feels like a piece of this community is gone.”
Dan Schere can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org