Dr. Ernest Hardaway Jr. died on March 9 in Orlando, Fla. with his devoted wife and love of his life Dr. Sandrea Smith Hardaway by his side. He was 88 and had been a fixture at Healey Square in Oak Bluffs during the summer months.

His distinguished, pioneering career as a public health advocate in government spanned 50 years. Dr. Hardaway made a lifetime commitment to public service. He held various administrative positions with the Bureau of Medical Services and Health Services Administration U.S. Public Health Service and the Bureau of Quality Assurance at the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, D.C.

He was born on March 3, 1934 in Columbus, Ga., the son of Virginia Laura Hill Hardaway and Ernest Hardaway Sr. He was raised in Hamtramck, Mich. and graduated from Hamtramck High School. He graduated from Howard University with a bachelor of science degree and went on to earn a doctor of dental surgery degree there as well. Later he became an assistant professor of oral and maxillofacial surgery at Howard University Medical Center, having been chief resident there. He received a master of public health degree at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

In the 1970s, while serving on the U.S. House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee as a special assistant to the director of the Office Policy Planning and Evaluation for the U.S. Department of Health, he was encouraged by chairman Wilbur Mills to pursue a career in public health.

He was an oral and maxillofacial surgeon and ranked as captain in the U. S. Navy; commissioner of public health for the District of Columbia; and director of federal occupational health at the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services.

He was a member of the International College Dentistry Royal Society of Health, Academy of Dentistry International, American College of Dentistry, American Dental Association and the National Dental Association. He was a fellow at the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons; a consultant for the District of Columbia Council, secretary-treasurer of the Society of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, a Louise C. Ball Fellow, Global Community Health Fellow for the Department of Health. He received a meritorious service award from the U.S. Public Health Service, the J. B. Johnson Nursing Center award; and the National Dental Association’s Dentist of the Year award in 1983.

He also received the outstanding service plaque from the D.C. Village Choir, a distinguished service certificate from Concerned Citizens for Alcohol Abuse, and the Whitman-Walker award for AIDS efforts.

He served as chairman on academic affairs at the University of Illinois college of business and was a member of the CFO council committee on entrepreneurial government for the Office of Management and Budget in Washington, D.C.

A lifelong member of St. Peter AME Zion Church and the NAACP, Dr. Hardaway also held memberships in Sigma Pi Phi, Kappa Alpha Psi, Omicron Kappa Upsilon and Delta Mu Chi fraternities; National Association of Guardsmen, the Druids Club of Chicago, 100 Black Men of America. He served on the board of directors at the United Black Fund, Potomac Valley Myasthenia Gravis Foundation and Rosemont Health Center advisory board.

He was previously married to the late Claudette Vivian Cofield Hardaway who was the first black female associate attorney general of North Carolina. They had two sons: Ernest Kai Hardaway 3rd of Raleigh, N.C. and Thomas C. Hardaway of Atlanta. He also leaves his beloved grandchildren Alexander Claudette Jean Hardaway of Los Angeles; Bowen Lee Hardaway, Thomas Cofield Hardaway and Caitlyn Claudette Marie Hardaway of Atlanta; and nephew Dr. James A. Hinesly and his wife Dr. Mary Hinesly of Ann Arbor, Mich. He was predeceased by his sister Kathryn Hardaway Hinesly of Detroit.

Many people valued and appreciated Dr. Hardaway’s friendship for the caring he showed, the laughter, smiles and insights they shared. He will be dearly missed.

He will be interred at Detroit Memorial Park Cemetery in Warren, Mich. at a date to be determined.

Donations can be made to the Dr. Ernest Hardaway Jr. Scholarship Fund at Howard University in memory of Ernest Hardaway Sr., Virginia L. Hardaway and Kathryn P. Hardaway Hinesly.