Dr. Ervin Harder, who died Feb. 14, 2014, has been credited for his leadership role with numerous boards and agencies, in addition to his dental practice

Dr. Ervin Harder, who died Feb. 14, 2014, has been credited for his leadership role with numerous boards and agencies, in addition to his dental practice.

Among his credits are construction of Hannibal Regional Hospital in the early 1990s and the new YMCA of Hannibal in 1981.

“He was a pillar of our community,” said Spike Ehrhardt, who served with Harder on both the hospital and school boards.

“He and Bob Parker contributed to putting the hospitals together and locating the hospital west of Hannibal, which is a huge success. … He was instrumental in making that all happen. Anything new, he always wanted us to take on and do, and he was always for the success of the community. In addition, he was a personal friend of mine” and as his family dentist, Harder is credited with his children’s “beautiful smiles.”

Harder “served on the school board for 10 years and was president for many years,” Ehrhardt added. “He was always very complimentary to our teachers. We visited the schools, and he always had positive words to say. He was just a person you wanted to be around, a very warm, very giving person. We are going to miss him a lot.”

Parker, who was involved in the merger of Hannibal’s two hospitals prior to construction of the new one, worked with Harder on both the hospital and YMCA boards. When the current YMCA was constructed, Harder was chairman of the campaign, Parker said. “I was his associate.”

However, Harder’s friendship with Parker began 50 years ago, when they became partners in buying land and farming. “That was a true friendship. We were like adopted brothers. Over the years we saw each other every week or every other week” in what he described as “the strongest non-relative friendship I have ever had.”

Hannibal City Manager Jeff LaGarce, who supported Harder's appointment to the Board of Public Works, described him as “a wonderful guy and great friend. He was one of the kindest people I have ever known. I have a great deal of respect for him, and I’m going to miss him.”

“His leadership on the board was masterful,” LaGarce said. “He helped them craft a policy/governance model for leadership that they operate by, and it was excellent.”

Harder also helped write the BPW’s code of ethics, LaGarce added. “He was an excellent leader, very supportive of others, a real team player.”

Bob Stevenson, BPW general manager, said he and Harder traveled to Washington, D.C., together twice on utilities business, “working with other municipal utilities from around Missouri.”

As they visited congressmen and senators in Washington, Stevenson said, “he participated fully with understanding and wisdom” and was “an excellent diplomat.

“He provided leadership on this board with a big dose of generosity for everybody,” Stevenson added. “He would get here early and greet people. He cared about everybody. We are going to miss him.”

Harder’s BPW membership was recent, Stevenson said, but he had previously helped Hannibal in many ways, such as co-founding the Northeast Missouri Sheltered Workshop.

YMCA Executive Director Pete Friesen called Harder “one of the driving forces behind the building we have now, and he was behind the addition we put on.”

He also helped start the local US Masters swimming program for age 21 and over, in which he competed. “Bill Mueller and he were here every noon,” Friesen said.

“Doc was always very positive. He loved the swimming pool and loved the aquatics program. We are going to miss Doc very much. He was well loved by the staff and other members.”