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.