Lexington, SC (WLTX) -- Longtime Lexington County Coroner Harry Harman died Friday afternoon after a bout with illness and injury.
He was hurt last year in a car accident during what State Troopers at the time described as foggy road conditions, but despite that, friends and colleagues say he kept working.
Harman was first elected to office as the County Coroner in 1977, and since then, friends and colleagues say he worked to improve the community around him equally as hard as he did working as coroner during his lengthy career.
"He's put up a tough fight, and he was just tired," said Richland County Coroner, Gary Watts.
For the past 30 years, Watts called Harmon not only a colleague, but a friend, too.
Watts said he went to visit Harmon at the Lexington Medical Center early Friday morning, and after speaking with Harmon's family, said his goodbye.
He said Harman had recently begun going into his office to work, and had even attended a training March 29.
In fact, aside from working as County Coroner for 37 years, Watts said Harman was instrumental in working to tighten educational and training requirements for the state's coroners.
"First of all, he was a compassionate human being," Watts said. "He cared about people. Generous to a fault. I know people pick on him about being tight, but Harry would literally give you the shirt of his back."
Watts said Harman displayed a tireless work ethic that did not stop after a terrible car accident in Feb. 2013.
"He still was having some complications from that car crash, but lately he was going into the office," Watts said.
Ted Stambolitis owns Flight Deck, a Lexington restaurant he opened 22 years ago. Stambolitis said Harman was one of his first and most consistent customers.
"I call him 'Mr. Harry,'" Stambolitis said. "He started coming into the restaurant when we first opened up, and we've built a friendship ever since then."
Stambolitis also said Harman was "the kind of person that you would really admire. Just a good man. You could tell deep down in his heart, he was a good man.
"He cared about the community and he cared about the people in Lexington," he said.
"I certainly didn't expect it to happen to him anytime soon," Watts said.
But because it did happen to him despite what seemed to be a recovery, it will now be up to the Gov. to appoint a replacement. But for the man some saw as a pioneer in his field, that will be something difficult to do.
"Lexington has lost a great son, and I, for one, will sure miss him," Stambolitis said.
When reached over the phone for comment, former Lexington Mayor, Randy Halfacre, who worked with Harman for nearly 20 years during his time as mayor and a town councilman, said Harman was a "good friend" who many will miss.
Harman was 79 years old.
funeral arrangements have not yet been set.