City leaders remember Harwood as a ‘special person’

by Kathleen Steele Gaivin
Former Brecksville City Council President Michael T. Harwood leaves behind a rich legacy of civic involvement, from coaching sports teams to leading city council. Harwood served 12 years on city council; he was president or vice president of council each of those years.

“He was a natural leader,” Mayor Jerry Hruby said. “He was just so dear to me.”

Hruby said he had hoped one day Harwood would become mayor of Brecksville

The life-long Brecksville resident died on April 12 at age 59 following a long illness. He didn’t seek reelection in November 2021 because of his health.

The mayor said he’d known Harwood since the council president was a little boy, “and he was still a little boy when he passed away. He never lost that happiness from childhood. He always had a smile … If we could only see that smile one more time. No matter what the circumstances, there would always be a smile on his face. When he walked in the room, there’d be a big smile.”

He added that Hardwood was compassionate, a hard worker, and he especially loved his family.

“The people of this town were fortunate to have him for the time he had. His family was so kind to share him,” Hruby said.

Current Brecksville City Council President Laura Redinger, who has served on council for 11 years, said, “This has been, obviously, one of the harder things for all of us [on council] to go through. He was a special person. I got to know him very well.”

She remembered Harwood for his deep commitment to the Brecksville community. She said Hardwood “very quietly went about and did lots of things” in addition to his leadership on city council.

In addition to his council responsibilities, he served as a member of the planning commission where he lent his expertise in architectural/environmental design and construction management.

“My special memories of Mike are really the times where he was helping and you didn’t even know that he was there,” Redinger said. “He was everywhere but he just quietly did it. He wasn’t looking for accolades.”

Hruby and Redinger noted Harwood was involved behind the scenes with the annual children’s Christmas play and other plays at the Old Town Hall, as well as with Home Days and other events in the city.

“I loved that kid. He was just a great young man. I will never forget all the things he did for me,” Hruby said.

Brecksville City Council honored Harwood’s memory with a proclamation of condolence to his family at the May 3 meeting. The proclamation enumerated the various ways Harwood served the city over the course of a lifetime.

Harwood was a founding member of the Cuyahoga Valley Youth Organization, and a scholarship has been set up in his memory. As of the May 3 council meeting, The Mike Harwood Memorial Scholarship Fund through the Cuyahoga Valley Youth Organization had raised $11,000. Donations can be made online at, or checks can be made payable to Cuyahoga Valley Youth Organization.

Harwood leaves behind his wife, Debbie; daughter, Emily; son, Daniel; mother, Carole Harwood; brother, Tim and sister, Patricia. ∞