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Donald Harms

Posted October 02, 2012 in Ankeny, Obituaries, Johnston

March 12, 1929 – September 28, 2012

Donald W. Harms, 83, of Elmore, Ohio, passed away Friday, Sept. 28th at the Kennybrook Nursing Home in Grimes, Iowa a year after suffering a major stroke. Although a difficult year for Don, it was a meaningful year for him, his family and the loving Kennybrook staff, as we all had a chance to spend time together and share smiles and joys and celebrate each little milestone.

A family memorial service will be held at 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 5th at the Johnston Evangelical Free Church, 9901 NW 62nd Ave, Johnston, IA 50131.

Don was born March 12, 1929 in Bowling Green, Ohio, to Harold Henry and Bernice (Rehl) Harms. Raised during the Depression and being the 9th of 10 children, life growing up was hard. There were times when they had only potatoes from the garden to eat. He was raised valuing a hard work ethic, which he continued to follow throughout his life. He was an accomplished high school athlete in football, basketball and track, making All-State in track in 1946.

Don met and married his college sweet heart, Ruth (Ozzie) Ozawa Harms in 1950, after which he completed his B.S. degree at Bowling Green State University and embarked on a teaching and coaching career. He coached football, basketball, wrestling and track through the years, and was head football coach at Elmore, Lakota and Port Clinton High Schools, culminating his career as the Great Lakes League coach of the year at Port Clinton High School.

Don held teaching positions in biology and science, metal shop and auto repair as well as being an assistant principal. He preferred the hands on nature of the metal shop class and was proud of students who went on to welding and machining jobs.

Don could remodel, rebuild or refurbish most anything. He was an accomplished carpenter who built his house in Elmore out on 3 ½ acres. He did auto body work, painted cars, rebuilt engines, did all of his own auto repairs and repaired lawnmowers. He was especially fond of Willys-Jeep station wagons and Jeep trucks. His Depression era memories made it difficult for him to part with anything (of any seeming value) or to pay anyone else to do work that he felt he could do himself. He was fiercely independent and much too proud to ask for any help.

Don had a serious illness as a young man that was a life changing experience for him. He felt the Lord’s presence when ministers were called to pray for him and believed that the Lord had spared his life. As a result, he became dedicated to following Jesus and accepted the call to be a minister in the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS). His passion was working as a missionary Elder and planting new congregations-which he did in Bowling Green, Findlay and Sandusky. He spent countless hours as a pastor, after teaching and coaching–visiting the sick, teaching evening scripture classes, holding prayer services, preaching and remodeling church buildings. He especially enjoyed taking his family each summer to the Temple Grove church camp grounds to spend a week filled with worship, fellowship and recreation.

Don was preceded in death by his wife, Ruth (Ozzie) Harms in 2002 and great grandson Aden Harms, and is survived by three children, Donald Jr. (and wife Birdie), David and Douglas; six grandchildren, Kori (Brian), Don III (Erin), and Adam (Kim), Ryan (Amber), Christy and Cameron; and 10 great-grandchildren; younger brother Eugene (Eleanor) Harms, his Uncle Larry (Margaret) Zavodney and numerous nieces and nephews.

Information provided by:
Ankeny Funeral Home and Crematory
1510 West First Street
Ankeny, IA 50021

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