Farewell, Mike Harden

Mike HardenThe Columbus Dispatch reported late on Oct. 13, 2010, the death of Mike Harden at the age of 64. Details are found in this updated article, written by the NSNC’s Joe Blundo. The obituary has links to several of his columns and a selection of pictures.

Mike was one of the earliest members of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. He was a friend to all of us, and a mentor to many.

Mike was the 2007 recipient of the society’s Will Rogers Humanitarian Award for sustained work in civic journalism producing tangible benefits for the community. He hosted the society’s 1992 conference in Columbus and had been a newsletter editor for the group.

Mike was a champion of Ernie Pyle. At our most recent annual conference, in July 2010 in Bloomington, Ind., Mike moderated a panel discussion on the acclaimed early 20th-century columnist. Audience members received copies of On a Wing and a Prayer: The Aviation Columns of Ernie Pyle, which Mike co-edited. The NSNC’s YouTube channel has a snippet of Mike during this discussion.

The society gives its deepest condolences to Mike’s family.

The following information is from the Dispatch:

A memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 24, 2010, at Liberty Presbyterian Church, 7080 Olentangy River Road, Delaware, Ohio.

In lieu of flowers in his memory, the family suggests donations to St. Stephen’s Community House, 1500 E. 17th Ave., Columbus, Ohio 43219. Arrangements are by Rutherford-Corbin Funeral Home, 515 High St. in Worthington.

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6 comments for “Farewell, Mike Harden

  1. October 25, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    It’s been an honor, these last few – and precious – years, to be welcomed into the loving circle of Mike’s music family … to see his passion for an old, sweet song, sung betweed brothers, tears sizzling in their reddened eyes (passed off as summer sweat and a few good drinks), to taste the Best Gumbo in the World! I hate gumbo. I had 2 bowls of Mike Harden’s Gumbo.

    When he spoke of his Mother, it seemed she was right ever his shoulder – just like she looks in their “BIG Cookie” photograph.

    In their home, Mike and Deb drew us in with a radiant embrace of immediate love and genuine interest. A lively sharing songs, premium and colorful jokes, and the delicious flavoring of his recounts of learning to play guitar from his Uncle Jack, his delight in his Mom learning to play the autoharp; Mike’s every word was engaging. He seized any opportunity to gush over his children and grandchildren, and “worked the room” with a dedicated connection to Deb.

    Beyond my gratitude for those moments, I am Profoundly Grateful to Mike for several articles he wrote about some of my dearest friends – musicians, poets, healers, strugglers, heroes, just folks – mostly invisible, but great in Mr. Harden’s eyes. His columns were instrumental in sharing, changing, and, possibly, in saving peoples’ lives.

    The power of Mike’s words was the power of love. And, amidst my thankfulness, I am selfish enough to wish for another bowl of gumbo, and more stories, please. It seems he had more to tell … No one wants that Cowboy to Ride Away …

  2. Mike Leonard
    October 15, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    While I am not over the shock and mourning I feel that we also need to latch onto what Mike would like. Which would be Mike stories.
    When I attended my first NSNC convention in 1985 Mike was the host and the conference made me think, these are my people.
    I’ve recounted this all before. It was all about wit and intelligence and finding your voice as a columnist. Did I mention there was a bar set up outside lunch?
    The next time Mike hosted we almost got thrown out of the Bull Semen Hall of Fame. Why did we go to the Bull Semen Hall of Fame? Well, that was Mike. He was such a great, compassionate guy, but he had a great appreciation for the absurd.
    Mike was one of those people who made NSNC stick as an organization. Like a lot of us, he wasn’t a joiner but he was always ready when someone needed to step up and lead. He believed in the power and value of the voice of the columnist.
    I’ve told people that Mike Harden represented the very best of what this organization is. He was a local columnist who didn’t care if he was a national columnist – he wrote for his readers and he celebrated the people and interests of Columbus and the world around it.
    If it gets any better – he was a champion of Ernie Pyle, too.
    As we mourn we do need to keep in mind the fact that Mike probably would like to be remembered as a helluva guy.
    Helluva guy would be the highest accolade Mike would accept without suspicion, I think.

  3. October 14, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    NSNC would not be the far-reaching, established journalism organization it is today without Mike Harden. He was among the early builders and continuing supporters of NSNC. As secretary and newsletter editor in the 1980’s and 90’s he promoted NSNC conferences, the column writing contest and the Sitting Duck Award with his own distinctive kind of humor. He earned the 2007 Will Rogers Humanitarian Award for his support of local charities and his personal involvement with the Hurricane Katrina disaster in New Orleans.
    If it were possible, Mike would have been in Chile serving up hot meals to the rescued miners.
    Attendees at the 2010 conference in Bloomington, Ind., saw Mike at his finest, trumpeting the qualities of our hero, Ernie Pyle, and joining with Mike Leonard to create the Ernie Pyle Legacy Award to honor two of our longtime members; George Smith and “Big Bob” Hill. It’s so sad that Mike didn’t live to receive this well-deserved award.
    Bob Haught

  4. October 14, 2010 at 9:31 am

    Mike was a friend and colleague for nearly 20 years. He was my NSNC newsletter editor when I was president in the early 1990s. He taught all of us how to follow your heart.

  5. October 14, 2010 at 8:00 am

    What a heavy heart I have in reading about dear Mike’s passing. He was a man who fulfilled his purpose in life, using his writing talents to bring about positive change. He was big hearted, stout hearted and went straight into the most dismal situations, such as helping Katrina victims, where he rolled up his sleeves to clean, cook, comfort and write. He really showed how the power of the pen could be life sustaining. We all salute such a great man.
    Suzette Martinez Standring

  6. October 14, 2010 at 5:55 am

    The entire central Ohio community appears to mourn the passing of our gifted colleague and friend. He was a beloved cog in the intellectual wheel here and he will be missed, as a friend, a mentor, a humorist, family man, and writer.

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