Masontown abuzz over Joe Hardy's young bride
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MASONTOWN -- The new Mr. and Mrs. Hardy aren't uttering a peep.
But all over this tiny town and beyond, people are buzzing about Kristin Georgi, the 22-year-old hometown girl who married Joe Hardy, the 84-year-old lumber magnate, in Las Vegas this month.
Tony Tye, Post-Gazette
Kristin Georgi and Joe Hardy, photographed at a recent social event, were married in Las Vegas.
Inside Adolph's Tavern, a narrow slice of a bar on Main Street, the Bud Light is flowing -- as are the debates about the 62-year age difference between bride and groom.
"Good for him. Joe Hardy deserves to be happy, especially for all he has helped Fayette County," bar owner Tanya King said. "Age means nothing. Everyone has a heart."
But on the next bar stool, her husband, Andy, groans about the third marriage of Mr. Hardy, founder of 84 Lumber who developed Nemacolin Woodlands and Resort.
"It's a big joke. You have money and you can afford to buy people."
History is full of rich older men marrying beautiful younger women. Jay Howard Marshall and Anna Nicole Smith. Tony Randall and Heather Harlan. Woody Allen and Soon-Yi Previn.
But the shock quotient is high on this one because of the age gap of three generations and because this is, after all, Western Pennsylvania, not Hollywood. "I saw their picture on TV," said Ronette Legrain, Tanya's niece, who lives in Brownsville. "She looks like his grandbaby. No -- his great-grandbaby."
In this town of 3,611, the new Mrs. Hardy is known as a pretty, petite and pleasant mother of a toddler son. She met Mr. Hardy while working at the posh spa at Nemacolin.
In middle school and high school at the Albert Gallatin School District, she was not in the popular clique or involved in a lot of activities. But she was well-known and liked because of her bubbly and slightly flirty personality, said classmate Megan Cobert, 21, a student at the University of Pittsburgh. "She was really nice," she said.
"In junior high, she would say she was going to marry a rich guy and have a lot of money," Ms. Cobert said. "But she was just joking around. It was the kind of thing people would say all the time."
She has told friends her love for Mr. Hardy is the real deal.
"She said he was the most wonderful and kind person she had ever met. Age doesn't matter," said Terry Cellurale, owner of Bangz Salon in Uniontown, where the former Ms. Georgi worked two and a half years ago. A customer favorite, she would shampoo people's hair, he said, and was "just a joy to be around."
Masontown residents say Mr. Hardy gave her a Porsche and speculation is flying about a prenuptial agreement, but the Hardys declined comment on that and other matters.
It was only in the weeks leading up to their May 5 wedding that people even saw Mr. Hardy out with the young woman who would become his third wife. The couple came to Chez Gerard in Hopwood one night.
"They were laughing and joking," said Muriel Severac, co-owner of the restaurant with her husband, William. "They looked like a young couple. Joe is really a good spirit for his age. He always makes me laugh."
The future Mrs. Hardy used to come to Chez Gerard for Sunday brunch with her mother and younger brother. "She is a very gentle, very sweet, " Ms. Severac said.
A 3-year-old son
Ms. Severac said Kristin has a son who is about 3, and applauds her for getting an associate degree at Laurel Business Institute while raising him.
"She is hard worker. She loves her son and does the best for her son," Ms. Severac said.
Her parents declined comment, as did Joe and Kristin Hardy.
Mr. Hardy's daughter, Maggie Hardy Magerko, now president of 84 Lumber and Nemacolin Woodlands, did not return phone calls. The most recent Forbes 400 list of wealthiest Americans estimated her wealth at $2 billion. Her father did not make the latest list.
This is Mr. Hardy's third marriage. He was married for more than 50 years to his first wife, Dorothy, with whom he had five children. After the couple's divorce in 1997, he married Debra Maley, an 84 Lumber employee who was then 26, and they had two daughters before that marriage ended in divorce. Mr. Hardy was 74 at the time of the marriage.
Kristin "looks just like Debbie," said Nellie Chester, a resident of Eighty-Four who is still friends with both Mr. Hardy and his second wife. "He started dating Debbie when she was 22. He must like 22-year-olds."
"I wish him well," said Mrs. Chester, president of the Greater Washington County Food Bank, a favorite charity of Mr. Hardy's. "He will take care of her [Kristin], and she will be 100 percent better off for marrying Joe Hardy. He has the world to give her.
"She had to see something in him. Whether it was a father figure, moneybags or lover, more power to her."
The fact that a young Masontown woman is the new Mrs. Hardy is a source of amazement in this town.
"People are crazy over this," said Mrs. King, the bar owner. "It is unbelievable that someone that wealthy came in and swept a poor little girl off her feet. If she can get a little bit of money, let her go for it."
The marriage comes in the middle of Mr. Hardy's re-election campaign as Fayette County commissioner.
Mr. Hardy has never acted like a typical octogenarian. For his 84th birthday blowout in February, Bette Midler, Christina Aguilera and Robin Williams were brought in to perform. He laughed along with the crowd when Ms. Midler teased him from the stage about his newly dyed brown hair.
"Joe is a very young 84." said Mrs. Chester. "You can't keep up with his schedule. He is up at 5 a.m. and going strong until 2 a.m."
Ms. Cobert agrees he is a vibrant senior. The former waitress at the Golden Corral in Uniontown used to wait on Mr. Hardy when he ate there with his driver. She likes both her former classmate Kristin and Mr. Hardy, but has trouble picturing the "great teddy bear" of a man putting his arm around the dainty young woman -- a size zero jeans, Ms. Cobert estimates.
She has an even harder time wrapping her mind around the idea that they are newlyweds.
"I knew he liked younger women. I didn't know she liked older men.
"To think of someone of my age with an 84-year-old, it just seems impossible," Ms. Cobert said. "It blows my mind. But if she loves him, I can't see any reason why it wouldn't work out."
First Published May 12, 2007 10:37 pm