Thomas Dean Hardy, age 70, of Billings, MT, died peacefully at home Tuesday, June 19, 2018, after a 17-year battle with cancer.
Tom was born March 23, 1948, in Cokato, to Lawrence and Myrtle (Pettit) Hardy.
After graduation, he enlisted in the Army, became a part of the 173rd Airborne Brigade, and served in the Vietnam conflict.
After returning home, Tom answered an ad in the paper and ended up in Australia, where he worked for seven months and made lasting friendships and memories.
In the early ‘70s, Tom returned to Cokato and worked for Jerry Knapp in the design and manufacture of fiberglass auto bodies. This experience led to his interest in racing. He later participated in the Paul Newman racing school in California, and raced Formula-V cars at Donnybrook Raceway in Brainerd, MN.
Tom loved telling the story about his decision to move to Montana to become a mountain man. He spent the next 40 years perfecting the art of building fine muzzle-loading rifles with intricate engraving and carving.
Tom spent his years in Montana surrounded by those who shared his interests and love for the history of the trappings and trade of the mountain man. He became a master in the arts of scrimshaw, beadwork, and leather work.
Tom worked as a draftsman in Billings for over 30 years, retiring in 2008.
He is survived by his wife, Lynn; daughter Leslie Kirby (John Hegamyer); granddaughters Crystal Kirby, and Corinne Kirby; great-grandson Maverick; a brother, Ken Hardy (Linda); and a sister, Suzanne Brook (Dave).
A service celebrating Tom’s life took place June 26 at the Smith Funeral Chapel in Billings, MT. Memorials can be made in Tom’s name to Riverstone Hospice, Billings, MT; or St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.