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William E. Harrer (1923 - 2012)

Obituary
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William E. Harrer December 24, 1923 - October 21, 2012 William E. Harrer - Born on Christmas Eve, 1923 in Evanston, Illinois he went gently in to the good night on October 21, 2012 after a valiant battle with Cancer. It's hard to summarize the life of such a man as he - but alas, the time has come that we must. Born to Josephine Ritter and Frank Harrer, "Bill" was the third child of five; three boys and two girls. Raised by a single mother after a tragic accident left his father incapacitated, the six Harrer's were a force to be reckoned with. Josephine moved the children from Evanston to Ashville, North Carolina to find work and raise her family in a smaller, safer environment. Growing up in the depression era, and knowing that Grandma Harrer could make almost anything out of a "found' bag of flour would define the attitude by which the Harrer's would live; "Life is as good or bad as you make it." Life wasn't easy for the Harrer children but they didn't know it, because they had each other. At 17, Bill dropped out of high school after finishing the 10th grade to join the Marines in June, 1941. He wanted to help support his family and see the world and, according to him, "That, I did." After boot camp in San Diego, he was stationed at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, which sounded like paradise and was, until that fateful day, just two weeks later; December 7, 1941 would become another chapter in his legacy. Dad served in the Third Division at Pearl Harbor before continuing his service off the coast of Iwo Jima and on Guam. He received an Honorable Discharge from the Marine Corp on October 17, 1945, but remained a Marine in his heart all the rest of his days - Semper Fi. Bill met the love of his life, Amelia "Kaye" Kouyomjian while working at the H.S. Martin Glass in Evanston, Illinois and, after a brief courtship, asked her to be his wife. During their first Illinois winter, they decide to head west. With all of their belongings packed into their borrowed 1941 Buick, they moved to California. Bill and Kaye Harrer soon started their own family of five kids, Tom (Mary), Cathi (Lee), Bill (Deb), John (Ranae), and Jim (Debbie). And here is where the story gets really good. Life as the child of Bill and Kaye Harrer could not have been better. As we all gathered together in Dad's final days, we reminisced with him about the legacy he had imparted; that hard work was a good thing, honor and honesty were essential to good character and that above all, family is the best armor. Through the years, he was most proud of his role of husband and father and his work as a machinist. Even though he didn't graduate high school, he was an entrepreneur, starting and successfully operating Valley Machine Shop in downtown Bakersfield for 18 years after being laid off at age 54. Then again, life is what you make of it, right? After the death of his best friend and wife of 54 years, Bill made lemonade again. His children suggested he get a passport and a whole new world opened up to him, traveling with friends and family to various destinations including New York City, Boston, China, Switzerland, Germany, Mexico and Canada. And he loved tennis and dancing; he was a long time member of the Siemon Park Senior's Tennis Group playing 3 times a week until this past April and he could often be found at Trout's or the Crystal Palace doing the two step with his dance buddies. He is preceded in death by his wife Amelia, his father Frank, mother Josephine, brothers Frank and Robert and sister, Agnes. He is survived by his five beloved children, his sister Margie, his grandchildren Michael (Kristi), Kevin, Nicholas, Christopher, Amelia, Sarah (Rob), Will (Krys), Tom, Nikki (Dan), CJ and great-grandchildren Grant, Kyle, Sam, Ben, Claire, Jack, Cooper, Taylor, Hailey and Drake. He will be missed by numerous nieces and nephews, in-laws and friends because, as we all know, he never met a stranger. Whether he was Dad, Grandpa, Double G, Uncle, Bill or Mr. Harrer, all knew him as the "sweetest man". He told us he lived his life with no regrets and in those words, we find solace. A viewing will be held on Thursday October 25th from 5-7 pm with a Memorial Service honoring his life held on Friday, October 26th at 2pm at the Chapel of Greenlawn Mortuary, 3700 River Road. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations be made to the William E. Harrer Memorial Scholarship Fund at Bakersfield College, 1801 Panorama Dr., Bakersfield, CA 93305. The family would like to thank Hoffman Hospice, Drs. Nguyen, Nichols, Heidari, Trang and Memon and the care-givers led by his primary care nurse MaryBeth at Rosewood Health Center for their loving care and compassion for our Dad. And so, it is with heavy hearts we say, "God's Speed Dad".. we love and miss you already. Give Mom a big hug from us! www.bakersfield.com/obits
Funeral Home
Greenlawn Funeral Homes • Cemeteries • Cremations
3700 River Blvd.
Bakersfield, CA 93305
(661) 324-9701
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Published in Bakersfield Californian on Oct. 24, 2012
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