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Gainesville doctor, record-breaking weightlifter Hardman dies

Anesthesiologist served as director with Orlando hospital

POSTED: July 5, 2013 12:19 a.m.

Dr. Thomas Fielder Hardman, 59, of Gainesville, an anesthesiologist and bench press world record-holder, died June 28 of natural causes.

Hardman was chairman of the Department of Anesthesiology at Humana Hospital in Augusta. He also initiated one of the first acute pain management services in the Southeast.

Hardman sold his practice in Augusta in 2006. He then became director of anesthesia at Citrus Medical Center in Orlando in 2007, where he was currently serving.

His recognition for weightlifting was printed in many publications locally, nationally and internationally. He was a nine-time world record holder for a bench press of 614.5 pounds, or 278.5 kilograms.

He received national attention on an Atlanta television program, “P.M. Magazine Show,” and received international acclaim when he was invited to the 1981 World Superman Contest in London. He finished fifth overall.

Hardman’s records were published in the Guinness Book of World Records, Sports Illustrated and The Times.

“There’s probably been a dozen articles written here about him over 30 years,” said his brother, Jim Hardman, owner of a local car dealership.

“Tom was a ... person with a lot of accomplishments.”

Hardman is featured in an exhibit of the Northeast Georgia History Museum and was inducted into the Northeast Georgia Sports Hall of Fame. He was a member of the First Baptist Church of Gainesville on Green Street, and an avid pilot of twin-engine aircraft.

Hardman was born in Gainesville and graduated from Gainesville High School. He began weight training at 13 and continued with it the rest of his life.

He also was a football player at the University of Georgia and graduated from North Georgia College in 1978.

He went on to receive his medical doctorate degree from the Medical College of Georgia in 1982, and in the same year received commendation from the governor.

Dr. Ed Shannon, a family friend of the Hardmans and an optometrist practicing in Gainesville, says both he and Hardman were dedicated to fitness throughout their lives.

“I grew up with his brothers. ... Tom and I hung out most because we both had an interest in weight lifting,” Shannon said. “(Tom and I) both centered our lives around the next time we could exercise.”

Aside from their shared affinity for fitness, Shannon said he considered Hardman a close friend.

“He was just a really fun-loving person,” Shannon said.

“A man has only one best friend all his life. Tom was mine.”

Hardman’s family will hold a visitation from 5-7 p.m. Wednesday at Memorial Park North Riverside Chapel in Gainesville.


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