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Longtime Sonoma County ER doctor was a bestselling author

Dr. Edward “Ted” Hard Jr., a longtime emergency room doctor, novelist and photographer, died July 16 after battling stomach cancer and heart issues. He was 81.

For more than 20 years, Hard directed the emergency department at Sutter Medical Center Santa Rosa, and served in the same role when it was Community Hospital of Sonoma County. He also practiced emergency medicine at Petaluma Valley Hospital.

In 2018, he and his wife, Elizabeth Galvez-Hard, moved to Eureka where he directed emergency services for St. Joseph’s Hospital in Eureka and Redwood Memorial Hospital in Fortuna.

“He had this soft, warm, radio kind of voice,” said former colleague, Dr. Brian Schmidt, trauma director at Memorial Hospital in Santa Rosa since 1996. “He was a joy to work with.”

Schmidt said he saw Hard bring calm to stressful situations that arose in the ER when Schmidt was on call at Sutter.

Hard was “interested in trauma patients” and supportive of Schmidt when he was working to open the trauma center and generally helped promote the county’s trauma system, he said.

But Hard’s life was much more than his work as a doctor, said his wife, 68, a retired former professor at Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park who taught bilingual classroom teachers.

“He loved beauty,” she said, recalling their time together exploring rivers and mountain trails in Humboldt County. “He loved photography and art. He would take nature photographs while I took long walks.”

“He was a very loving kind of a person. He genuinely cared,” she added. ”I never heard him say any anything negative about anyone. He was so positive.”

Galvez-Hard, who was born and raised in Chile and goes by “Ellie,” said she met her future husband at the Sutter ER as a patient suffering from whiplash after being rear-ended by a truck. She said she was immediately impressed by him.

“There was this very tall, dignified man,” she said. “I told my son, ‘That doctor is really something.’”

Recently divorced, she said she had just moved from Crescent City to Santa Rosa in 1998, a single mother. It turned out Hard was impressed by her, too, because the two had exchanged cards, and she returned from a weekend outing to find a voicemail from him.

“I had just broken my wrist during a bike ride,” Galez-Hard said. “He got me treatment and I was treated like a VIP because of him.”

During their first date at a Mexican restaurant in Santa Rosa a short time later, she said, “We sat there for three hours and he told me about ‘The Hunt for the Blackfoot Lion,’” a novel Hard was writing at the time that he finished while on lockdown during the pandemic.

The book was finally published in January and became an Amazon bestseller. Reminiscent of “Jaws,” the story is set in Montana and follows an insatiable beast with a taste for humans.

The two married on May 26, 2001, and had been together ever since. Each had children from previous marriages.

Hard had written several other novels, including “Oasis,” and “SUM VII.” Twentieth Century Fox bought the film rights for “SUM VII,” but hasn’t made a movie. Another novel, Ishmael, about the travels of a dog who gets lost and is washed into the ocean, was completed before he died and is now being edited for publication.

He also played an ER doctor, appearing in an episode of the original television show “Hawaii Five-0” in 1968.

Hard wrote articles for the Sonoma County Medical Association, two of which won awards for outstanding article of the year. One, written for the winter 2018 issue, was titled “Touched by the Dragon’s Tongue,” about the horrific Tubbs fire in 2017. The family’s home was spared.

“The sight is reminiscent of photos I have seen of Allied bombing in Dresden toward the end of the Second World War,” Hard wrote in the magazine, describing his former neighborhood of Fountaingrove. Returning to their neighborhood, he wrote, “I count the burned-out homes. The remnants look like corpses. No roofs, no walls, no color. The corner house is gone. The neighbors’ homes behind and across the street are rubble.”

The following year, with the children gone and surrounded by burned lots, the couple decided to move north.

“It wasn’t a healthy environment for us anymore,” said Galvez-Hard, who graduated from Humboldt State University.

But Hard stayed in touch with friends and colleagues in Santa Rosa, especially his closest friend, Dr. Robert Scheibel. They met in the early 1980s when Scheibel was chief of the Community Hospital radiology department. They became close friends, their families socializing and taking an annual fishing trip to Alaska.

Hard thanked Scheibel for his support in the acknowledgments in “The Hunt for the Blackfoot Lion.”

“He would bounce ideas and concepts off me,” said Scheibel, 85, and long retired. “He and I did many wonderful things together and he was my dear friend.”

He said he visited Ted and Ellie in Eureka often, including just a few days before Ted’s death.

Hard was born Edward Wilhelm Hard II in Buffalo, New York, on Oct. 6, 1939, the son of Mary (Hazel) and Edward Hard. His grandfather, John R. Hazel, was a judge who administered the oath of office to President Theodore Roosevelt after President William McKinley was assassinated.

He played fullback for Yale University’s 1960 football team, and attended class reunions. He graduated from the Columbia University College Of Physicians And Surgeons in 1966.

Hard always enjoyed writing. When he was serving a surgical residency at Stanford University, he had three short stories published by the Saturday Evening Post.

In addition to his wife, Hard is survived by his children, Michael Hard of San Diego; Sophia Hard of Austin, Texas; Leisa Cohen of Short Hills, New Jersey; Paul Alsop of Santa Rosa; Sara Alsop of Oakland and several grandchildren. He is also survived by his younger sister, Gretchen Jones of Bryan, Texas.

A service will be held at the Eureka Faith Center at 1032 Bay St. in Eureka on Aug. 12 at 11 a.m. Friends are asked to donate to the American Cancer Society or Faith Center Bible Institute in lieu of flowers.

Galvez-Hard said her husband died at home surrounded by family members.

You can reach Staff Writer Kathleen Coates at kathleen.coates@pressdemocrat.com.

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