John Harpen


John H.

John H. Harpen, 1928 to 2013. Recently described by one of his nephews as "one of the great Uncles, lawyers, singers, and characters of all time", John Harrington Harpen passed away with peace and dignity at Ebeid Hospice in Sylvania the morning of April 4 with his wife of 59 years and son at his side.

Born to Howard and Helen (Harrington) Harpen, August 3, 1928, John was the quintessential West Toledo Catholic boy, peddling the Toledo Times outside West Toledo factories and playing football and basketball while attending St. Agnes School and Central Catholic High School, which he graduated in 1946. After earning his Bachelor of Business Administration degree at the then Toledo University, John served in the U.S. Army Counter Intelligence Corps, where, as he was proud to tell his children, he managed the "highest-paid informant" in postwar Japan during the Korean War, a Japanese national he could only identify by his code name "B-9".

Just before leaving for the service, he met a stunning brunette, Marcia Zieman, whom he kept in constant contact with during his military service in Kobe, Japan, and married after his military service in September, 1953.

John graduated the Toledo University College of Law, and was admitted to the bar in 1959. As a criminal prosecutor in the Lucas County Prosecutor's Office, John set the record for convictions vs. acquittals. He also excelled in the field of eminent domain law, proudly arguing, and winning a case before the Ohio Supreme Court, Bekos vs. Masheter in 1973, which made law and set precedent for compensating property owners whose property was taken for public projects such as road construction. John took that expertise to the City of Toledo Law Department, where he worked as an Assistant Law Director until 1985.

A short story of John's life would be too short without mentioning two things - golf and his sense of humor. John was famous among friends, family and co-workers for his extensive library of jokes at-the-ready. While a young teen, he and the other boys in his neighborhood took up some old golf clubs and began driving and chipping in their yards and neighborhood parks. During his high school years, John hitchhiked from his Five-Points neighborhood to work as a caddie at Sylvania Country Club, as an adult, he and his wife were longtime members of Heatherdowns Country Club.

John is survived by his loving wife of 59 and a half years, Marcia (Zieman); four extremely proud children, Marianne (Bill) Cochran, Joan (Marty) Hohenberger, Jim Harpen, Sharon (Ken) Hastings; six grandchildren, Erin (Matt) McNaughton, Molly Cochran, Katie (Brian Rule) Hohenberger, Nick Hohenberger, Connor, and Luke Hastings, and sister, Mary Helen (Harpen) Wright. He was preceded in death by his parents and brother, Walter Harpen.

Visitation will be held Sunday, April 7, 2:00 - 8:00 p.m. at Walker Funeral Home, 5155 W. Sylvania Ave., Toledo, with a scripture service being held at 7:00 p.m. Funeral services will begin at the funeral home Monday, April 8 at 9:15 a.m. followed by the Mass of the Resurrection at 10:00 a.m. at Blessed Sacrament Church, Bellevue and Castlewood. Interment will follow in Resurrection Cemetery.

The family requests any donations in John's honor be made to the Bishop Robert Donnelly Scholarship Fund at Central Catholic High School or Blessed Sacrament Parish.

Funeral Home

Walker Funeral Home
5155 West Sylvania Avenue Toledo, OH 43623
(419) 841-2422

Published in Toledo Blade from Apr. 6 to Apr. 7, 2013