Tom Harding, 1937 - 2011
Thomas (Tom) Harding was born November 26, 1937 in Kalamazoo, the son of the late Melvin and Ruth (Schultz) Harding and died September 26, 2011. He was the middle child, his older brother Larry (wife Jan) Harding and his younger sister Judy Berger, surviving. Tom graduated from State High in 1955 where he played football, right guard, and baseball, outfield, with his trademark enthusiasm. In 1955 he earned All-City for Baseball. He played football at Kalamazoo College but was felled by poetry class; He graduated from North Texas State University. He and his State High sweetheart, Carol Lorraine Schutz were married on March 3, 1962. After college he served 6 months in the Army and 7 years in the reserves. He went to work for his father at Harding's Friendly Markets in 1961 and would remain with the company until his death. His career at Harding's spanned positions from bagger and stocker to owner. He loved working in the business, eventually owning five stores and becoming a founding member of a group that made it possible for Harding's to survive as a family-owned business for many area families, including Garland Smith, Marty Hill, Rich Glidden, Bonna Vanderlyn, Dave Gearhart and Bryan Hettinghouse. Tom, along with his wife, Carol, was an avid golfer with many City and County titles, including the 1973 KCC Invitational title with Bob Biesel. Mowing was a passion and he could often be found tending to the Richland store or his homemade golf course at home. A night at the racetrack was always a treat; he was a regular at Kalamazoo watching the Bozells and eagerly took grandchildren to the unique spectacle of New Paris. Tom and Carol were enthusiastic and loyal MSU Spartan fans, providing tailgating for family and friends for over 30 years - and followed the team to Rose Bowls and Final Fours. He was a fool for an old car too and was proud to exhibit his cars at the Gilmore Car Barns. Above all, he was a special person, unfailing in his devotion to his wife and children. So many friends and family were swept along in his laugh and mischief. No party, meeting or event went on very long without someone saying, "I hear Tom!" and then punctuated by that great laugh from him to complete the announcement. Surviving are his wife Carol Harding, his two sons Thomas M. Harding, Timothy R. (wife Sarah) Harding, his daughter Carolynne (husband Noah) Livingston; his mother-in-law Gertrude Schutz, brothers-in-law Bob (wife Susie) Schutz and Ron (wife Sandy) Schutz; nieces and nephews Wendy (husband Robbie) Roark, Doug (wife Kari) Schutz, Aimee (husband Rick) Miller, Robyn (husband Mike) Beres, Samantha Ryan, P.J. Berger, Rick (wife Melissa) Harding, Billy Harding and Andy Harding; grandchildren Caroline, Priscilla and Elizabeth Harding, and Robert, Catherine, Rachel and Molly Harding,and Teddy and Hank Livingston.