The LBJ Presidential Library and Johnson Family Remember James W. “Jim” Hardin
Aug 24, 2016
U.S. Secret Service Agent and Friend
March 4, 1936-Aug. 23, 2016
(AUSTIN, TX) President and Mrs. Lyndon Johnson along with their daughters, Lynda Johnson Robb and Luci Baines Johnson, developed professional and close personal friendships with many U. S. Secret Service agents who protected each of them during the presidency, vice presidency, and after leaving the White House. Secret Service Agent Jim Hardin touched their lives in immeasurable and lasting ways. Hardin, 80, died unexpectedly on Aug. 23, 2016, at his home in Fredericksburg, Texas.
Hardin's career in the Secret Service came just two years after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in November 1963. The Warren Commission, charged with investigating Kennedy's murder, called for hiring more Secret Service agents. Hardin left his job as a teacher and football coach at Haltom High School in Haltom City, Texas, to join the Secret Service, beginning his career in 1965.
Lynda Johnson Robb was the first member of the Johnson family to receive protection from Hardin. In 1966, he served as her agent while she was a student at The University of Texas at Austin, escorting her to the library, to class, to her sorority house – even on dates. "Jim Hardin was more than a protective agent to our family,” remembered Robb. "He was a friend, had the highest level of integrity, was humble, and trustworthy. Although Jim took his duties seriously and professionally, he was a great storyteller and loved a good joke. And, above all, his faith was always important to him.”
Jim Hardin, on President Johnson's right, in black tie (no sunglasses)
Tom Johnson, a White House Fellow and Deputy Press Secretary in the Johnson Administration, knew and admired Hardin. "Jim Hardin was a very special man. His family, especially his children and grandchildren, always came first in his life,” said Johnson. "Not far behind was his love of the U. S. Secret Service and those he protected. He was a magnificent leader, a devoted coach, and a very close friend. He touched the lives of all who knew him with his kindness, his warmth, and his unfailing humor. My wife Edwina and I will miss him more than words can adequately describe.”
After the Johnsons left the White House in 1969, Hardin remained in Washington, D.C., and served President Richard Nixon for two years.
Following that assignment, he returned to Texas and spent the rest of his career with the Johnson family. Hardin was a constant presence and an inspiration to Luci Baines Johnson. "Jim Hardin was a professional who sought excellence in everything,” said Johnson. "He was a dedicated family man who adored his wife, Nancy, their children and grandchildren. He selflessly served on his school board and faithfully attended his church. In his final days of retirement, we found his telephone answering machine’s ‘thought for the day’ still inspiring us to be better persons. There’s a hole in my heart with Jim’s passing. But my family has been forever blessed to have known his love, the twinkle in his eyes, and his example.”
After President Johnson’s death in 1973, Hardin continued as an agent assigned to Lady Bird Johnson. He protected her as Special Agent in Charge for 23 years, from her work and personal life in Texas to international destinations, many related to her work on the Board of Directors of the National Geographic Society.
Jim Hardin with Lady Bird Johnson in Tanzania - June 29, 1973
When he retired from the Secret Service in 1995, Lady Bird Johnson asked him to work on projects at the LBJ Ranch. Hardin was the "go to" man for any questions regarding the Ranch, eventually becoming General Manager of the LBJ Ranch.
Hardin’s body will lie in repose in the chapel of the Schaetter Funeral Home, Fredericksburg, Texas, until 12:15 p.m. on Saturday, August 27 and from 1 to 2 p.m. in the First Baptist Church, Fredericksburg, with a funeral service at 2 p.m., the Rev. Tommy Russell officiating. Graveside services and interment will follow in the Greenwood Cemetery.
Visitation will be on Friday, August 26 from 4 to 7 p.m. and on Saturday, August 27 from 7 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. in the chapel of the Schaetter Funeral Home, Fredericksburg.
The Hardin family suggests those wishing to make memorial contributions in his memory do so to the Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch, First Baptist Church in Fredericksburg, or to the charity of their choice.
Hardin’s wife, Nancy, passed away in 1989. He is survived by one daughter, three sons and their spouses: Rhonda and Carey Bonn of Fredericksburg, Texas; Kiff and Brenda Hardin of Heath, Texas; Brad and Susan Hardin of Fredericksburg, Texas; and Drew and Sherry Hardin of Dripping Springs, Texas. Hardin had nine grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Photos Courtesy of Hardin Family
LBJ Presidential Library