George August Harder
Born on February 13, 1946 in St. Paul, Minnesota - Died on January 25, 2020 in Clermont, Florida
George August Harder was an extraordinary man. He was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, the youngest of four boys. He was spoiled and dotted on by his mother and lived a pretty terrific childhood. His older brothers assured he would grow up fast and saw to it George had an eventful life, giving him the nickname “Gus”. Gus started working at an early age and worked jobs that are pretty much non-existent today. He was a paperboy delivering the Pioneer Press twice a day – “borrowing” his brother’s car when he was 13 to deliver papers in colder weather; he walked four miles to the driving range to pick up golf balls; he lied about his age and at 14, he got a job at Hazel Park Commercial Club as a pinsetter for the bowling alley. He was an original “Uber” driver giving rides to classmates for 10¢ a day. He also worked for 20th Century Photo traveling to small towns in Minnesota and Wisconsin setting up photo studios and taking photos for 99¢.
In 1963, Gus’s life would change forever. Some friends invited him to play poker at a friend’s house and “Gus” (embroidered on his bowling shirt) met the love of his life as she was coming home from a date with another guy. After 3 or 4 dates with Gus, she learned his real name was George and he told everyone from that day on, he had lost his identity. George was persistent and he won the heart of Sally Millhouse. During his senior year of high school he turned an old car into a race car. He gutted the inside and welded roll bars to the floor. George would drive the car from St. Paul to Cedar Lake Speedway, take out the headlights and drive it on the racetrack. After the races, he’d put the headlights back in, collect his $3.00 participation money for showing up and drive back home to St. Paul. In 1964, he graduated from Harding High School and started working for the Great Northern Railroad in the signal towers. Soon after, he purchased his first new car, a 1965 Chevy Impala – Evening Orchid or as his kids would later call it “purple”. George and Sally were quite a couple by now and he was thinking about their future.
In 1965, he called the wrong recruiter office and was told he was going to be drafted in one hour. So he listened to the recruiter’s convincing tale and joined the Army. He left his beloved car with his parents because the Army was going to pay him $64 a month and his car payment was $62 a month. After a few months in the Army, George and Sally were married on February 1, 1966 in El Paso, Texas. The Army required George to return to the barracks after the wedding, but it didn’t matter because George had wooed and captured the affection of the most amazing woman to start their lives together. Three children would bless their lives. Carrie, Scott and Dawn. George and his family would travel all over the country being stationed in Texas, New York, Alabama, Colorado, Hawaii, North Carolina and Panama before retiring in 1988 as a Chief Warrant Officer serving his country for 23 years.
George was also a lifelong Boy Scout and leader. He did a 50 mile hike through the Adirondack Mountains with the Boy Scouts in New York. He went to Wood Badge training in Panama in 1979. He slept in the jungle, camped in the woods, canoed lakes and rivers, built pinewood derby cars and told super scary ghost stories. He served as a Scout Master for Scott’s troop, his nephew Christopher’s troop and his grandson Eric’s troop.
George loved games. He was a master pinochle player, loved bowling; one time winning a large trophy for coming in last in their league, but also being so skilled he turned around before nailing a 7-10 split! He could play dominoes for hours, played cribbage, and all kinds of board games. George was so competitive at Trivial Pursuit his family made him fill two pies instead of one and he still managed to win most of the time. He also loved casinos. He would take his $25.00 and make it last hours. His kids believe he only went on cruises to hang out in the casino.
After the Army, he taught computer classes and worked in the Education Department for the military. He loved to travel. His family would hit the ground running at all new duty stations becoming resident tourists. He reached his goal of visiting all 50 states in 2018. George read all types of books and watched TV as sport. He could repair anything. Until his kids were older they believed everything electric had a toggle switch. George was a family history buff, researching his family and sharing historical information. He wrote stories and newsletters and had memorized the Tell Tale Heart terrifying children and adults alike. He loved to talk and would talk to people of all ages. Children would say how much they enjoyed talking with George because he didn’t talk to them like they were children. He could be smart, philosophical, political, witty and humorous all in the same conversation.
George had a special bond with all his grandchildren spending hours teaching them things, playing games, sharing his love of reading and TV. He had a white beard, a jolly laugh and a round belly that made him a perfect Santa’s helper. In December, he had an unlimited supply of candy canes to hand out to everyone he met.
In 2007, George had a spinal cord injury leaving him an incomplete quadriplegic. He continued to love life – traveling, fishing, playing virtual bowling and rescuing stray animals.
After one very brutal winter in Wisconsin, George and Sally decided to become snowbirds in 2009, splitting their time between Florida and “The Farm” in Wisconsin.
2016 would be a bittersweet year. George and Sally would celebrate 50 years of wedded bliss and 4 months later he would be diagnosed with cancer. With Sally’s love and dedication, she cared for George with the upmost attention and support, extended his life another three and ½ years. He told everyone how lucky he was. They had a love story that transcends time.
Loved ones that cleared the path to Heaven for George are his parents Arthur and Hulda Harder, his brothers William and Arthur. And until they meet again, George is survived by his loving and devoted wife Sally, his children Carrie (Kimon) DeLaGarza, Scott (Catherine) Harder and Dawn (TJ Harris) Harder, his grandchildren, Eric DeLaGarza, Alex Quehl, Karl DeLaGarza, Julie (Andrew) Hubbell, Benjamin Harder, Elizabeth Harder, Brandon Townsend and Great-Grandson Paul Hubbell. He is also survived by his brother Jack and many nieces and nephews, great nieces and nephews, great-great nieces and nephews and so many friends that he considered his family. He was called Uncle George, dad or grandpa by many “adopted” kids that he mentored, educated and loved as his own. George will be missed by family and friends. Everyone that knew George described him as the nicest man they ever met who always had a smile.