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Neil R. Harte

July 6, 1922 ~ October 28, 2018 (age 96)

NEIL R. HARTE, born July 6, 1922, died October 28, 2018

It has been said that every man’s life ends the same way.  It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one from another.  Neil Russell Harte’s life and legacy is one that celebrates the value of family, perseverance, hard work and never forgetting the importance of a good laugh.  In many ways, Neil’s life reflects the lives of so many of the Greatest Generation.  He was born in the small town of Bath Michigan, on July 6, 1922 the second child to LeVere and Florence Sweet Harte.  The smile on his face and twinkle in his eye in childhood family pictures tells you most of what you need to know about Neil’s approach to life, but what it doesn’t tell you is about the pain he carried with him well into his 90s that was borne from the loss of his older brother Robert, who was killed at age 9 in the Bath school explosion of 1927.  In 1943 Neil left his mom and dad, his younger brother David, and his sweetheart, Jean Ballinger of St. Johns, and headed to the Pacific as a private in an amphibious squad that would make 22 landings on islands from New Guinea to the Philippines. Along the way he was promoted to Staff Sargent and commanded 3 amphibious units that transported troops to the island beaches. In 1946 he came home and went back to work at GM and helped his dad run the family farm.  Later that same year he had the good sense to marry Jean.  Together, the two of them built Harte Dairy Farms, raised six kids, including Gail Wadell (Charles), Robert (Barbara), Bruce (Janice), Barbara (Harley Aylor– dec.), Jim (Ellen), and Sheri Willis (Steve).  While Neil’s primary school report cards don’t reflect the marks of an overly committed scholar, he and Jean imprinted the value of a higher education on their children, sending all six to Michigan State University. In addition to serving his country he also served his community as trustee and clerk of Olive Township for over 29 years. Neil lived an incredibly full life – he loved to tease and enjoyed the give and take of a good negotiation.  We will remember him driving tractors (something he did in to his 80s) doing calf chores, dancing with Grandma, poking fun and joking with his grandkids, sitting in the kitchen feeding his dog, (Rusty and then JR,), eating cookies, playing cards, fun at Higgins Lake and all the other countless memories and moments that Neil created for all of us during his 96 years.  Neil is survived by his children, 12 grandkids, 17great grandkids, his brother David, and his very special friend and companion Esther Tice. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11:00 AM Friday, November 2, 2018 at the Catholic Community of St. Jude 801 N. Bridge St. DeWitt with Rev. Fr. Robert Irish as Celebrant. Interment will take place at 2:00 PM at Mt. Rest Cemetery, St. Johns with military honors provided by the St. Johns Honor Guard. The family will receive relatives and friends 5:00 to 8:00 PM Thursday, November 1 at Keck-Coleman Funeral Home, St. Johns. Memorials may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association 2111 University Park Dr. Suite 200 Okemos, MI 48864 or City Rescue Mission of Lansing 607 E. Michigan Ave. Lansing, MI 48912.


Donations may be made to:

Alzheimer's Association
2111 University Park Dr. Suite 200, Okemos MI 48864

City Rescue Mission of Lansing
607 E. Michigan, Lansing MI 48912


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