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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Brian Conrad Harder

Brian Conrad Harder was born the son of Henry (Mike) and Elizabeth (Klassen) Harder at Bethel  Hospital in Mountain Lake, Minnesota on December 10, 1944.

Most of his youth was spent growing up on a turkey farm west of Mountain Lake with his  parents and five siblings. Hard work, laughter and a zeal for life was prevalent. School was not a  place to be taken too seriously, but rather an avenue through which he could excel in running  track and having fun with friends. At the age of 15, he was baptized into the Christian faith at  First Mennonite Church.

It was during that pivotal time in his life that he met a “Nelson” girl from the west end of the  county. 4-H was paramount in both their lives. Thus, a loving lifetime of beautiful memories  began in the show ring at the Cottonwood County Fair. They were competing against each other  then, but joined together in marriage on August 26, 1965, both conceding that “if you can’t beat  ‘em, join ‘em.” To this union were born three children: Christy, Corey and Kelly. And with their  children, the show ring would continue to be a significant part of their lives.

To fulfill his 1-W service obligations to his country, Brian and Carol served the first two years of  their marriage as houseparents to emotionally disturbed boys at Craigwood Boys Farm in Ailsa  Craig, Ontario, Canada. They were later asked by the General Conference Mennonite Church to  start a youth crisis intervention center in Clinton, Oklahoma. The center served the Cheyenne  Indian community for over 23 years before being adopted into the Human Service Department of  the state of Oklahoma.

In 1973, Brian began a career in real estate in Mt. Lake, working in partnership with his father.

He often reflected that he “worked along side his best friend and it never felt like work.” In 1988,  he started a successful career working for General Motors at Towns Edge Auto, serving first as a  salesman and later as the General Manager. Each work-day began with the routine of morning  coffee at the local restaurant. Businessmen, farmers and friends shared memories, stories, and  opinions. Solutions for the world’s problems were abundant. And when illness prevented him  from attending these sessions, they were continued each Sunday morning around a dining room  table so he could stay connected. This became known as “Brian’s Sunday School Class.”

To say Brian loved Mountain Lake would be an understatement. He was an active member of the  local Rotary and Lions Clubs, serving judiciously in leadership roles. He often reflected that he  was afraid (like his father) that the secret would leak out to the world about what a great place  Mountain Lake was to live and everyone would want to move here. He also served on the local  City Council, Bethel Hospital Board, EDA Board of Directors, Mountain Lake Foundation, Mt.  Lake Police Commission, Cottonwood County Fair Board, Cottonwood County 4-H Extension  Board, Mountain Lake Christian School Board, Bethel Church Board of Trustees, Church Youth  Leader, Wednesday Night Bible Study leader, and Sunday School teacher. Together with Carol  he served countless years as an adult 4-H leader and softball coach.

Hunting the hills and plains of Wyoming was a life-long passion. With wonderful hunting  companions, he and Carol spent decades in pursuit of trophy wall mounts. When weather  permitted, Brian’s other passion was motorcycling. Endless hours were spent rumbling across  highways and byways, cementing bonds that will last eternally, with his two sons and cycling  companions.

Brian loved to laugh and help people see the humor in life. With that came his love for young  people which resulted in kids being absolutely drawn to him. His own children and  grandchildren, nieces and nephews adored him. However, beneath the surface there was wisdom,  faith, and common sense that was treasured by the countless friends and family members who  turned to him in their times of need.

In 1976, Brian and Carol together recommitted their lives, their marriage and their family to  Jesus Christ. And it was into his arms that Brian found enteral peace on February 16, 2023.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Henry (Mike) and Elizabeth (Klassen) Harder and his  son, Corey Douglas Harder.

He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Carol (Nelson). Two children, Christine Elizabeth (Rob)  Zelinsky, Brookings, South Dakota and Kelly William (Andrea Zuber) Harder, St. Paul. Seven  grandchildren; Riggen Zelinsky, Rhett Zelinsky, Raesa Zelinsky, Zane Harder, Lawson Harder,  Elizabeth Harder and William Davies. Siblings: Michael Harder, Doug (Becky) Harder, Gail  (Steve) Erickson, Sandy (Steve) Schroeder, Tom (Jackie) Harder. Daughter-in-law; Ronda  Diller. And a host of in-laws, nieces, nephews and friends.

Memorials may be designated or sent to the Brian Harder Memorial Fund at the Mountain Lake  Christian School for the Christian education of children.


Blessed be the memory of Brian Conrad Harder.

A celebration of life service will be held at 2 p.m. at Bethel Mennonite Church on Sunday,  February 26, 2023.

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