The Carolina Lettermen's community is collectively mourning the passing April 21 of Dee Hardison, a defensive tackle from the mid-1970s who was hailed as a remarkable athlete and a kind and generous individual.
“Dee was my first up close look at a true athletic freak,” Duke Thompson says. “But what impressed me most about Dee is that he was so unaware of his immense talent. He is one of the nicest guys you would ever meet.”
“He was a heck of a football player, but more than that just a great guy,” Phil Ragazzo said. “He was humble about everything and not pretentious in the least. Everybody like Dee. I know there are people who don't like me. But I don't think I know one person that didn't like Dee.”
Hardison died Saturday at UNC Hospitals after a lengthy battle with heart issues. Services will be Saturday April 28 with viewing from 10:30 to 11:45 and the funeral at Noon at Northwood Temple Church, 4250 Ramsey Street in Fayetteville.
There will also be a viewing Friday at Butler & Sons Funeral Home in Clinton from 1 to 6 p.m. Here is a link to their website: https://www.butlerandson.com/clinton.
Hardison lettered from 1974-77 and was named to the AP's All-American first team in 1977, when he co-captained the Tar Heels team that won the ACC title and finished 8-3-1 and ranked 17th after a 21-17 loss to Nebraska in the Liberty Bowl.
The Buffalo Bills drafted Hardison in the second round in 1978, beginning his 11-season career in the NFL. He played five seasons with the New York Giants, two with the San Diego Chargers and one with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Hardison was inducted into the N.C. Sports Hall of Fame in 2007 alongside N.C. State basketball star Genia Beasley, NFL referee Gerald Austin, UNC basketball star Pete Brennan, N.C. State football star Dennis Byrd, Louisburg baseball coach Russ Frazier, AFL all-star Claude “Hoot” Gibson, World Series winning baseball manager Jack McKeon and Elon athletic director/former Wake Forest football star Alan White.