Laurance Lafe Harness, 96-year-old lifetime Flathead Valley resident, passed away Dec. 20, 2018, at the Whitefish Center in Whitefish.
Laurence was born on May 16, 1922, in Shelby to William and Charlotta Harness. Laurance, always known as Larry, moved to Kalispell when he was an infant where he was raised by his grandmother Bessie Mesler.
Larry rode his horse 3 miles to Demersville Country School where he graduated from the eighth grade in 1935.
Country life and the need for help on the family farm dictated that Larry end his schooling there and go to work. His childhood pet was a 300-pound boar that followed him through the hills as a child when he was hunting and playing.
The hog was a one-person pet and the moonshine his grandma and uncle made was kept in his pen, which was never inspected by the occasional revenuer.
Larry spent his teen years milking a herd of cows for his grandma and neighbors along with doing farm chores, which included putting up hay with pitchforks and horse and wagon for a dollar a day plus room and board; he also worked in the Civilian Conservation Corps just prior to World War II.
Larry met Hazel Benton, the love of his life, in 1941. Larry and Hazel were married on Nov. 23, 1942, and this year celebrated their 76th wedding anniversary. Larry joined the U.S. Army and left for boot camp two days after their wedding. Larry served during World War II in Galveston, Texas. He was the only guy in his battalion that could drive a Caterpillar and was kept in Texas as a gun positioner on the Gulf of Mexico for homeland protection. Hazel joined him in Galveston where they live until the end of the war.
After the war they returned to Kalispell where Larry went to work in the woods. He owned his own saw mill for several years and later owned Harness and Son Logging, with his son Joe. Larry left day to day logging and hauled logs for over 30 years.
He sold his truck in the mid-1980s and spent the next 20 years running a wrecker service, plowing snow and doing mechanic work for anyone who needed it.
He retired completely at age 90. When he was 87 he helped his son remodel a cabin in Wyoming and rode bareback leading a mule from one pasture to another. He was still packing his own wood in July of this year.
Larry was a member of the American Legion and the Eagles Lodge. He was a past honorary mayor of Kila and charter member of the Montana Logging Association.
Larry was a true outdoorsman and loved spending time in the woods, fishing, hunting and camping.
His passion was spending time with his family and teaching them the ways of the woods and how to work.
After retirement, Larry and Hazel spent time traveling to visit their children and grandchildren. A highlight for the couple was a 50th anniversary trip to Alaska, where they traveled all over the state and fished from Valdez to Homer.
He is much beloved by his grandchildren and great-grandchildren who all will miss his humor and loving presence.
Larry is survived by his wife Hazel of Kila; three sons, Joe Harness and his wife Kim of Kila, Dr. David Harness and his wife Kate of Buffalo, Wyoming, and Mike Harness and his wife Susan of Snohomish, Washington; one sister, Pearl Faust, of Thompson Falls; 10 grandchildren, Laura Rodriguez of Kalispell, Buck Harness of Longview, Washington, Dr. Hayley Miller and her husband Joe of Missoula, Dr. Pax Harness and his wife Dr. Kelly Harness of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, Sterling and Cooper Harness of Buffalo, Wyoming, Angie Hadland and her husband Karl of Bellingham, Washington, Dr. Anthony Harness of Princeton, New Jersey, Tori Dennis and her husband Josh Markham, and Andrew Dennis, all of Seattle; nine great-grandchildren, four great-great grandchildren, numerous nieces and nephews and a plethora of friends, young and old.
He was preceded in death by his mother Charlotta Johnston, one son Tony Harness, and one granddaughter Faith Harness.
Funeral services for Larry will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 12, at Johnson-Gloschat Funeral Home in Kalispell with the Rev. Mike Maddox officiating.
Visitation will be at the funeral home chapel on Friday from 1 to 9 p.m. and on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Interment will be in Glacier Memorial Gardens Cemetery with military graveside honors to immediately follow the service.
Donations in Mr. Harness’s memory may be made to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund in care of the Harness Funeral Home at 351 N. Adams in Buffalo, Wyoming 82834.
Online condolences may be made to Johnson-Gloschat Funeral Home and Crematory. Johnson-Gloschat Funeral Home and Crematory is caring for the family.