William Newell Harker, “Bill” was born on March 27, 1933 to
George and Nancy Harker in Meeker, Colorado. He grew up on the Western
slope of Colorado on a ranch in Rio Blanco County. His parents split up
shortly after he was born and he was raised early on by his Maternal Grandmother
Ellie Newell. And Uncle Fred Dauth where he helped build the Ripple Creek
Lodge east of Meeker, Colorado.
Later he went on to live with his mother Nancy and her husband Mick Fleming.
Dad was blessed as he had two families that called him Bill. Fortunately
Dad had a big heart as he was loved by an extended family which included
two brothers and four sisters. Dad went on to graduate in 1950 from Pueblo
Catholic High School in Pueblo, Colorado. He attended Regis University
in Denver, Colorado and then went on the Creighton University in Omaha,
Nebraska. He spent a lot of his time at what he considered home at the
Ripple Creek Lodge while he was in college.
Dad told us how he would take a train from Creighton University to Rifle,
Colorado and then would pick up his horse “Brownie” from friends
and would ride to the Ripple Creek Lodge. He told us a story of how it
was snowing one time on the ride home and he said to his horse, “Brownie
go home.” He said Brownie delivered him to the lodge and they had
to break him off his saddle as he had become frozen to it. Dad was a hunting
guide in the Routt National Forest and he spent his early years as a hunting
and fishing guide for folks from the Ripple Creek Lodge. Dad was a cowboy
gentleman and loved to tell us stories of the Old West. Sometimes I think
he was born in the wrong era.
Dad was a true gentleman through and through and he wouldn’t allow
us to use any bad words around Mom! Funny thing is we always told our
funny/bad jokes to Mom!
Dad served two years active duty in the US Naval Reserve and was stationed
at Great Lakes Naval Station just outside Chicago, IL, which he thought
was particularly funny. Dad loved the water and sailing was a passion
of his. He was introduced to racing sail boats with Dick Clary and he
enjoyed this time greatly. He owned several sailboats and he spent a great
deal of time on the Grand Lake of the Cherokees in northeastern Oklahoma.
Dad came to Tulsa University on the GI Bill and graduated with a B.A. degree
in Industrial Psychology. At TU is where he met mom, Ann Beyhan. They
married on June 27, 1959 and just recently celebrated 58 years of marriage.
Brother Jack and Mike were born here in Tulsa and then Dad took a job
at Corning Glass and he was moved to Muskogee, Oklahoma where he was a
Plant Manager. Then Mom and Dad had me and Brother Dave and he was moved
with the company to Corning, New York and was there for almost 5 years.
Another move with Corning Glass brought him to Shawnee, Oklahoma where
Brother Tony was born. He took a job at Liberty Glass in Sapulpa, Oklahoma
and he and mom made their home back in Tulsa which was good as they were
close to numerous life-long friends and family.
When most of us boys were in college, Dad decided to go back to school.
This was fun for him as he was in upper level courses and he would proudly
display his grades on the refrigerator for everyone to see. Dad was a
straight “A” student in his adult life and he loved to rub
in it to all of us and he was “that guy!” When the end of
a chapter had suggested reading to understand the subject he would go
check out those books to further his knowledge. Dad graduated from Northeastern
State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma with a Master’s Degree in
Psychology. He was a Licensed Professional Counselor and had his Master
in Social Work. He worked for the rest of his career helping people at
several of the psychological service centers here in the Tulsa area, Broken
Arrow Mental Health and Shadow Mountain.
Dad and Mom were heavily involved in our sporting events. Mom used to say
she and Dad had “bleacher butt” and they were 2 ships passing
in the night as they rearranged their work schedules to take us to every
sporting event known to man. Dad remarked that back in the 1950’s
he was the only English speaking member of the TU Soccer Team. He coached
several of our teams and had a love for the game. He especially enjoyed
watching his grandsons playing the game for years.
Several of our friends have told us they loved our parents as if they were
their own. Mom and Dad had a very welcoming home and they often remarked
it had a revolving door as we went in every direction. To say they were
welcoming is actually an understatement, who else could bring their entire
30 person Pledge Class home to the Harker’s after running out of
money on our Pledge Sneak in Dallas, Texas at 4 o’clock in the morning!
I remember Dad and covering guys with sheets and blankets and they even
provided a pancake breakfast for us all.
Dad and Mom had a “second career” and were very crafty people.
I remember Dad saying he needed to write a book about “How we made
everything but Money!” They traveled in their “retirement
years” to craft shows all over the country and either made or sold
many different items. Bill loved woodworking either carving animals at
Scout camp or making western red cedar baskets for his company “Cedar
Works.” Dad loved teaching his grandsons to work alongside him in
Dad recently sold his house to the son of a family friend and moved in
with Brother Mike. He spent the rest of his years relaxing and taking
care of Mom. It was helpful that Dad was a “voracious” reader
as he was still getting several books a week at the public library and
they knew Dad by his first name.
Dad took his vows of marriage seriously and when Mom presented with early
signs of Dementia and Alzheimer’s Dad’s role changed to that
of caretaker. He took care of Mom for many years, much longer than he
probably needed to do, and finally made the tough decision to have Mom
placed into a Memory Care Facility. Dad visited Mom almost daily and would
spend a lot of time just being with her as the disease progressed.
Bill is survived by his wife Ann of Tulsa; his son Jack and spouse Martin
of Tulsa; his son Mike and wife Janelle; his son Pat and wife Paula; his
son David and wife Jana; and his son Tony. He is also survived by his
brother Mike and wife Linda Fleming of Connecticut; sister Nancy and husband
John Koenig of Georgetown, Texas; his sister Joyce Saitta of Denver, Colorado;
his sister Jan and husband Frank Adams of Westminster, Colorado; and brother
Pete and Beth Harker of Clarion, Iowa. He is also survived by his grandsons
Patrick, Bryan, Davis, Matthew and John Luke Harker all of Broken Arrow;
grandsons Chad Edsell of Waskom, Texas; Craig and Cory Edsell of Tulsa,
Ok; and great grand-children Gabby, Little Chad and Gracie of Waskom,
Texas. He was preceded in death by his younger sister Marie Harker of
Denver, Colorado and granddaughter Charlie-Ann Harker of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.