Harder, Jacob David


Jacob Harder was born a refugee in Riga, Latvia, where his parents arrived after leaving their village in Siberia. He died in hospital in Edmonton, where he lived most of his adult life.

Left to cherish his memory are his wife Hella, with whom he celebrated a 70th wedding anniversary in August; two daughters, Leila (Charles) and Rhonda (Roger); four grandchildren, Megen, Bryn (Morgen), Stefan (Laurel), and Elise; and two great-grandchildren, Mateus and Talia. He was predeceased by an infant daughter and all seven of his siblings.

Jacob Harder was a builder and educator. Raised on a farm near Carstairs, Alberta, he earned three university degrees, including a PhD, as well as a journeyman carpenter’s certificate. He had gumption. In his working life, he was a teacher, an associate director of curriculum with the Department of Education, and executive-director of the Conference Society of Alberta. He also served on the boards of numerous church and community agencies, including Mennonite Central Committee and the Edmonton Recycling Society; he chaired countless meetings.

Above all, Jacob Harder will be remembered for the care he showed his family, the encouragement he gave to many, and the generosity, hard work, and practicality he demonstrated throughout his life.

His memorial service will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 2, 2019 at First Mennonite Church, 3650 91 Street NW.

Donations in memory of Jacob Harder may be made to Mennonite Central Committee (Canada) at 134 Plaza Dr., Winnipeg, MB, R3T 5K9, or https://donate.mcccanada.ca/

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Hannah Friesen

I feel deep gratitude for Jake Harder and sorrow for the loss of him. He helped us when we were poor students at the University of Alberta. He and Hella welcomed us and our first child. Jake thought us what to look for in buying a used car, he made toys for our kids, he made our one and only crockinole board and together with Hella sent us Christmas goodies when we were teachers in Zimbabwe for three years. What an amazing role model Jake was for us, especially together with Hella. Forever grateful.

Ralph Friesen

When my wife Hannah and I came to Edmonton to attend university in 1971, Jake and Hella were like parents to us. They invited us over for meals, asked us about our lives, supported us in our aspirations. Jake was a true mentor to me, a second father. Years later, on a visit, he said: “You are a good man.” I appreciated that, deeply. Jake, you too are/were a good man. Journey well now. With great gratitude, Ralph.

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