Harris Haar: 1934-2022
Harris Hugo Haar, 87, passed away at the Wagner Good Samaritan Center on June 6, 2022, surrounded by his family.
Harris was born at home in Freeman, S.D., on Dec. 2, 1934, to Hugo C. Haar and Henrietta (Mensch) Haar, joining his older sister Harriet and later cousin Lois in the family. Harris was baptized at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Freeman. He attended St. Paul’s Christian Day School from the first through the eighth grade then was confirmed in the Lutheran Church at Freeman in 1949.
During his school days, his father worked with his grandfather and uncles at Fred Haar Company, the family farm machinery business, while his mother worked as a homemaker and a teacher. Harris graduated from Freeman High School in 1953, where he fondly remembered playing Huckleberry Finn in the school play. After graduation, Harris worked for the U.S. Forest Service for a summer in northern Idaho. He liked to say that he walked across the state of Idaho — the very narrow panhandle. He then attended Freeman Junior College for two years.
In 1954, his parents sold their share of the family business and bought the John Deere dealership in Wagner, S.D., from Hugo’s brother Bob, who owned dealerships in Lake Andes and Wagner. In 1957, Harris answered Uncle Sam’s call and served two years in the United States Army. After basic training in Colorado and tank-parts training in Aberdeen, Md., Harris worked as a parts specialist at Fort Knox. Returning home, Harris worked as a salesman and partsman at Haar Implement, selling many 30-series two-cylinder tractors. He met the love of his life, Sharon Van Asperen and they married in 1963. A son and a daughter were born to their union.
The family business grew as John Deere introduced the New Generation 10 series and later the popular 20 series. Business was more challenging during the farm crisis of the 1980s, when he learned about bankruptcies and took cattle, hay, and grain for payment. Harris was innovative in finding ways to keep customers in business. In 2006, after 52 years of service to the community, Harris and Sharon turned over the business to Fred Haar Co.
Harris was a member of St. John Lutheran Church in Wagner and enjoyed his membership and friends in the American Legion and Dante Lake Club and appreciated a family game of croquet, softball, hunting, fishing, and playing cards with a regular group of friends. He also enjoyed being a Boy Scouts leader, traveling, and riding in the Labor Day Parade next to his wife as the “first gentleman” of Wagner.
Harris is survived by his wife Sharon; son Milton; daughter Roberta; two grandsons: William and Sidney Duke; sister Harriet Schaeffer; brother-in-law Don Van Asperen; sister-in-law Barbara Walters; and cousin Lois Kinnamon.
Preceding him in death are his parents; parents-in-law, Samuel Van Asperen and Virginia (Ehrisman) Van Asperen Kodes; son-in-law Simon Duke; brother-in-law Elton Schaeffer; and sister-in-law Sandra Grosz.
A funeral service was held Saturday, June 11 at St. John Lutheran Church in Wagner. Burial was in the Riverview Cemetery in Pickstown, with military honors.