Rev. Donald Gene Harper, 83, left his earthly body for his Heavenly home Feb. 2 at his daughter’s home in Wellington, Ks. The son of Hugh Thomas and Freda Genevieve(Jacobs) Harper, he was born June 16, 1929 in rural Hamilton, Ks.
As a child he and his family lived In Fredonia, Longton and Moline, Ks. He interrupted his schooling to join the army in 1946 and was honorably discharged in Feb. of 1948. He earned his GED while serving his country. He married Lavina Louise Kling in Leavenworth, Ks. June 21, 1947 and she preceded him in death April 14, 2006 after nearly 59 years of marriage.
Rev. Harper was a sheet metal fabricator by trade but a preacher of God’s word by calling. His first pastorate was at Full Gospel Tabernacle in Independence, Ks. where he moved his young family in 1956. He also worked at Lee’s Heating and Cooling. He owned and operated Harper Sheet Metal in Independence .
From April 1961 through November 1962 he was pastor at Grace Baptist Church in Neodesha, Ks. Upon moving back to Independence, he was interim pastor at several other churches in the area. He began his pastorate at the First Baptist Church of Cedarvale, Ks. in late 1965 where he preached until 1977. During 1974 and 1975 he attended Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City where he was awarded a Diploma of Theology under a new program for students who were lacking the undergraduate degrees. He was the first student to go through this program.
He and Lavina moved to Howard to serve the First Baptist Church in July 1977 where they stayed until June 1980. This was a time to be close to both sets of elderly parents. He pastored the First Methodist Church of Cherokee/Weir, Ks. from 1980-1986, followed by The First Methodist Church of Humboldt, Ks until 1991. They moved back to Howard at this time for “retirement”. He only semi-retired at that time as he was soon continuing his ministry at the little country Methodist churches in Piedmont and Climax Ks. He retired from the active ministry in June of 2006. After the death of his wife, Don moved to Madison Square in Fredonia for several years, then to the Presbyterian Manor in Arkansas City. He moved to Wellington in December of 2012.
Don was quite active in civic affairs, serving as a Silver Haired Legislator for Kansas for a term. He held several offices in Lions Club, Rotary Club and the American Legion, serving 3 terms as Commander of the American Legion Post in Howard Kansas. He also served on the library board and the senior center board.
He was preceded in death by his parents, his wife, 3 sisters, Elnor Harper, Janet Hawkins and Louise Horton. He is survived by a son Dennis(Theresa) Harper of Independence, Ks and daughters Linda(Gary)Heathman of Siloam Springs, Ark., Nancy(Roger)Cloyd of Ainsworth, Neb., Carol(Dale)Small of Neodesha, Ks, and Ruth(Lonnie)Cooper of Wellington, Ks , 13 grandchildren and 21 great grandchildren. He is also survived by a brother Thomas Harper of Bartlesville, Ok., sister Beverly O’Neal, Longton, Ks, and sister Mary Osburn of Bolivar, Mo.
Funeral Services will be held on Friday, February 8, 2013 at 2:00 P.M. at the Howard United Methodist Church, with burial to follow at Grace Lawn Cemetery in Howard. Visitation will be held on Thursday, February 7, 2013 from 4:00 to 7:00 P.M. at Countryside-Zimmerman Funeral Home in Howard. Online condolences may be left at: www.countrysidefh.com The family suggest memorials to either the Howard Senior Center or the Howard Legion Post 0149 and may be left with or sent to the funeral home. Services have been entrusted to: Countryside-Zimmerman Funeral Home 206 E. Washington, P.O. Box 1233, Howard, Kansas 67349