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Donald Harger

Death Notice
  • "Mr. Harder was not only a great teacher but also a very..."
    - Joanne Antosik Ashenfelter
  • "Mr. "Deke" Harger was the reason I became a Biology Teacher..."
  • "And he raised a very cool daughter!"
    - Dawn Carlson
  • "i only know Pa Harger thru his daughter Christina H. ~ but..."
    - sandra wayner
  • "Had Mr. Harger in Earth Science, Fall 1961. I to this day..."
    - Ted deBord

Donald Duncan "Deke" Harger

of San Mateo passed away peacefully on January 21, 2014. He is survived by his wife, Marge, daughter Christina, son Charlie, daughter-in-law Michelle, and grandchildren Caroline, Charlie, and Phoebe.


Donald Harger was born in Riverside, California, on March 7, 1928, to Donald K and Nino Brown Harger. He graduated from Richmond High School in 1945, and from Stanford University in 1949. He earned his Master's degree at Stanford in 1950. Shortly thereafter, Deke enlisted in the Navy and subsequently went to Officer Candidate School and became an intelligence officer. He had a memorable tour of duty in Kodiak, Alaska. After his active Navy service, he continued in the navy Reserve intelligence program, retiring as a Commander.


Deke was a science teacher for 33 years; three years teaching middle school in Ventura and 30 at Burlingame High School. He inspired generations of young people as a teacher and yearbook advisor. He, along with teaching colleagues, made several trips with students to various wilderness areas in California, seeking to get young people interested in and committed to preserving nature. He retired in 1988, and at that time the BHS faculty presented him with another love of his life, Daisy the dog.


Harger always said that a summer vacation was not truly a vacation unless he went to the mountains. He backpacked until he couldn't anymore. He shared his love of backpacking not only with students, but also with his children and friends. He developed his love of the mountains as a child, when his parents took him on horse-camping trips every year. As an adult, his backpacking focused on the Sierra Nevada, but also included the Trinity Alps and the Marble Mountains.


He was very involved with and dedicated to his church and spiritual life. Deke taught Bible classes and conducted a series of seminars that are remembered to this day. He helped with the St. Paul's rummage sale, trained new acolytes, was a frequent cupbearer and lector, and was in the church choir for many years. Deke was a deeply religious man, but did not wear his beliefs on his sleeve. Rather, he showed them by the way he lived: with kindness, care, and generosity.


Harger was a man of many interests. He was an avid gardener, who enjoyed sharing the fruits of his labors, including bringing homegrown tomatoes on his backpack trips. He played the guitar and piano, would entertain his family with songs, and was an enthusiastic reader. He volunteered at the San Francisco airport with Traveler's Aid, and with an organization that helped transport elderly patients to their doctor appointments.


Even with all of his varied interests and activities, Deke always put his family first. He was dedicated to his wife and children. He made them laugh at every meal, took good care of them, and was always proud and supportive of their endeavors. All who knew Deke appreciated his unique sense of humor: droll, clever, and sometimes just plain silly.  He will be remembered as a loving, humorous, and considerate man, and will be missed greatly.


Donald Harger passed away from complications of Parkinson's Disease. His family thanks the staff and caregivers at Heirloom Gardens, Burlingame, and Hospice of San Mateo County, for their care and kindness towards their husband and father. Donations may be made in his memory to Hospice of San Mateo County, Sierra Club, or a .


A memorial service will be held on Friday, January 31, 2014, at 2:00pm at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 415 El Camino Real, Burlingame, CA, 94010.


Published in San Francisco Chronicle from Jan. 26 to Jan. 27, 2014
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