Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Michael Keith Harder

    Mike was born on June 11, 1947, to Ed and Bette Harder in Burlingame, Calif. Growing up in “The Village” with older brother Bob (born 1942) and adding sister Kathy in 1951, the family then moved to 1268 Cortez where brothers Scott (1954) and Brian (1961) were born. It was just down the street from Our Lady of Angels Parochial School & Catholic Church (everyone who was anybody went there) and the home became known simply as “The Harder’s.” While at “The Harder’s,” one could expect lots of sun, swim (the only pool in the neighborhood), soda pop and kids—lots of kids. It was great! Poolside first aid became a “rite of passage” for all of the Harder kids initiated by mother Bette, who often worked with the disadvantaged in that same pool. Basketball and baseball (coached by Ed) were also daily activities, but Mike excelled at springboard and platform diving while attending Serra High School (as did all brothers) and received a full-ride scholarship to attend Oregon State University in 1965.
    College life was good as a member of Sigma Chi fraternity but in his sophomore year after receiving a proverbial “Dear John” letter and a couple of disappointing results in diving competition, Mike volunteered for the United States Marine Corps in 1967. Deployed in 1968 as a private first class in a Marine recon battalion, Mike served three tours in Vietnam and was honorably discharged with awards in 1969. He returned to the States and studied education at Chico State before receiving his B.S. in Economics at the University of San Francisco. In 1975 Mike, with wife Georgene, then moved to Ketchum, Idaho,  and worked as maitre d’ du hotel at Sun Valley’s’ famous Duchin Room. In 1977, after a change in ownership at Sun Valley, Mike and partner Russ Armstrong opened Le Club Restaurant. With wife Linda (married in 1979) at his side, Le Club became known as the “quintessential” Ketchum continental restaurant, establishing a level of culinary expertise that has become legendary. Achieving sobriety in 1985 and the restaurant closing in 1987, Mike moved to Maui with new wife Vickie.
      In Maui, Mike continued to pursue his passions of cooking, scuba and surfing. Unknowingly, Mike would stumble upon his ultimate passion: helping others. First, learning to navigate the system of the Veterans Administration successfully, he was then able to share that knowledge with his fellow vets. While helping many on Maui, he continued a personal journey that would eventually lead him to the island of Bali in Indonesia where he discovered his ultimate purpose: “The Gift.”  
    Bali is a world of contrasts, with none more evident than the obvious poverty that surrounds the happiest people on the planet. Settling in Medewi and realizing this, Mike made sure that orphaned children there were fed and clothed. He treated the handicapped and elderly there with the same commitment and changed forever the local perception of people in need. Known as “Mr. Mike” or “Pa,” he improved the lives of many and his selfless efforts have defined his legacy on the island. Mike was happiest living among these people and on his last day, after a good morning surf, or “the early” as it is known, he succumbed to complications resulting from pneumonia. Mike passed on April 11, 2014, and rests peacefully in his “heaven on earth,” his beloved Bali.
    Remembrances and contributions continuing his legacy can be sent to: W. Scott Harder, P.O. Box 2405, Ketchum, ID 83340.

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