By Roxana Ross
The late Dr. Ben Hardin was remembered and honored on Thursday, Nov. 14 at the unveiling of a new portrait in his memory at Southeastern Regional Medical Center. Dr. Hardin passed away in January, at the age of 76. He first began practicing in Robeson County in 1980.
“This a tribute to a true icon of the Robeson County medical community,” said Dr. Joe Roberts, Southeastern Health’s vice president of Medical Affairs. “Tonight we are here to honor the legacy that Ben Hardin left behind among his family, friends and colleagues. … This large crowd speaks volumes about what Ben meant to the community.”
Several of Dr. Hardin’s friends took turns speaking, remembering him as an intellectual, a listener, and good doctor and an avid hunter. Dr. Hardin’s sense of humor and work ethic were also recalled.
“It’s obvious Ben was a lot of things to a lot of people, especially the medical community,” said Dr. Matthew Cummings, an interventional cardiologist with Southeastern Health Heart and Vascular. “He would say, ‘If you get to know the patient, they’ll tell you what’s wrong with them.’ He was a master of that. He would say to me, ‘When you see a patient, sit down.’ …It was one of the things I’ve always taken with me. It’s like magic. … I learned from Ben that when you get to know that patient, you know when something’s not right.”
Luckey Welsh, former CEO of SeHealth, recalled Dr. Hardin’s role as a trailblazer, as the first American Indian resident at what was then Fayetteville Area Health Education Center. He was also the first openly admitted American Indian to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine.
“He came back here to serve his people,” Welsh said. “That’s what he told me.”
As well as unveiling the portrait, SeHealth also presented Dr. Hardin’s children with a crystal tower engraved with Dr. Hardin’s years of service to the medical community. Dr. Hardin’s son, Adam Hardin, said that while he and his siblings often resented his father’s work and obligations, they grew to understand and respect their father’s commitment to his patients.
“We quickly developed an enormous amount of pride in him and admired the impact he had on so many lives inside these walls and up and down these halls,” Adam Hardin said. “It’s so great to be here today and see so many familiar faces that our dad loved and that we love as well. On behalf of me and my three sisters, Alicia, Christie and Ashlee, we just want to thank Joann [Anderson], Dr. Roberts, the entire Southeastern Medical Staff, and all you guys for taking time out of your busy schedules to honor Dad.”
The portrait, a gift from the SeHealth Medical Staff, will hang in the main corridor at Southeastern Regional Medical Center.
SeHealth VP of Medical Affairs Dr. Joe Roberts presents Dr. Ben Hardin’s son, Adam Hardin, with a crystal tower engraved with Dr. Hardin’s years of service to the medical community.
Three of Dr. Hardin’s children, along with their spouses, pose with his portrait. From left, Patricia and Adam Hardin, Christie and Spencer Brantley, and Alicia and Carlton Mansfield.
SeHealth VP of Medical Affairs Dr. Joe Roberts unveils the portrait of Dr. Ben Hardin, joined by several active and retired members of the Southeastern Health Medical Staff, from left, Dr. Charles Beasley, Dr. Sadanand Hegde, Dr. William Ro Burleson, Dr. Matthew Cummings, Dr. Gregory Locklear, Dr. Kenneth Locklear, and Physician Assistant Earl Cummings.