Robert Arthur Harsha lived just 12 days short of celebrating his 96th birthday, passing away Sunday, May 21, 2017, with family by his side holding his hands.
Bob was born June 2, 1921, in his family’s home in Reed Point, Mont., delivered by the local town doctor. He was the only child of his mother, Elsie, and father, Avery, who were homesteaders from Iowa. Bob spent his first years by his mother’s side while his father worked in the Reed Point National Bank. Soon, the three of them moved a few miles to a small home near the Brumfield ranch where they lived until Avery bought a ranch on Countryman Creek.
The Countryman Creek ranch was conveniently located just one-fourth mile from the local, one-room school where Bob attended throughout his grade school years, walking or riding horse to school.
Bob attended high school for the first two years in Reed Point. He finished high school in Columbus by boarding with the Raiff family during weekdays, which was a common practice for “country” kids in those days.
After high school, Bob moved to Seattle for a year, delivering eggs from a local supply business to restaurants and military ships. During that year, Bob made the career decision to enter barber college in Spokane. Once he completed barber college, he returned to Columbus and married his sweetheart, Marguerite Hudson, in 1942.
Because World War II was fully engaged, Bob decided to serve his country by entering the United States Navy.
While waiting for basic training to begin, he worked at Benbow mine above Fishtail. In 1943, Bob was sent to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, for basic training on Lake Pend Oreille.
After basic training, he was assigned to duty on the aircraft carrier USS Saginaw which saw significant action in the South Seas. On the USS Saginaw, Bob served as a barber and assisted with emergency duties. This was the beginning of Bob’s long and successful career as a barber.
At the end of the war in 1945, Bob returned to Columbus, Marguerite, and their new son, Robert Wayne. Within days, he went to work for a local barber. During the next few years, he and Marguerite had two more sons, Phillip and Harry.
Bob continued to barber and eventually bought the business and the building from the owner who had initially hired him. In that location, Bob worked until the middle of March 2017 (the current year), marking the end of a 74-year career as a barber.
Bob was preceded in death by his parents, Elsie and Avery, his wife, Marguerite, and oldest son, Wayne.
He is survived by Wayne’s wife, Heidi of Columbus, his son Phil (Derinda) of Springfield, Miss., and his son Harry (Jeanne) of Columbus. “Grandpa” is also survived by 10 grandchildren and 11-3/4 great-grandchildren scattered from Columbus, Montana to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Bob was an honest, hard working man, true to his word, a friend to many, a lover of golf in his later years, and a part-time farmer/rancher who enjoyed life and his work up until the time of his death. He will truly be missed as a mainstay in downtown Columbus. To all his great friends, “Goodbye for now, I’ll see you later.” To George and Lowell, “Get my clubs ready, I’m on my way to share in many great rounds of golf with you in eternity.”