Harold Kortum

Feb. 20, 1924 — July 30, 2021
Thursday, August 19, 2021
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Harold Kortum, a thoughtful, unassuming, and courteous man crossed the final bar in Ellensburg on July 30, 2021.

Harold was born on Feb. 20, 1924, in the picture postcard town of Red Lodge, Mont., to Emil and Jannie (Tuttle) Kortum, a German immigrant father and a charitable mother.

In 1941, Harold graduated from Columbus High School in Montana and his teachers must have taught him well as he could recite poems, recall history facts and remember world capitols well up until the day he died.

His wife Lorna said she never had to look up anything, she just asked Harold — a walking encyclopedia! In 1943 during the midst of World War II Harold joined the American Merchant Marine under the tutelage of his favorite uncle Bill Kortum.

He traveled to many foreign ports including Australia; Abadan, Iran, Shanghai, China and Port Said, Egypt. Achieving the rank of Third Mate, Harold took his last seafaring voyage in 1946 and then returned to his beloved home state of Montana. There he met his future wife Lorna Lovelace, a rancher’s daughter, on a blind date at Montana State University.

With coal black hair and hand some feature she reminded Lorna of the movie actor and dancer Gene Kelly except he couldn’t dance! Married in 1947 Harold and Lorna settled in Portland, Ore., where they began to raise their family of three children.

A trained draftsmen and designer, Harold accepted a new job in 1966 and moved his family to Seattle.

After 12 years in the Seattle area, Harold and Lorna purchased a home on the basalt cliffs in Vantage, Wash. Harold commuted daily to his job as Building Maintenance Supervisor at the Central Washington University Physical Plant in Ellensburg. He retired in 1991 after 15 years of Distinctive Civil Service.

Active in his community, Harold was a commissioner on the Kittitas County Housing Authority Board for 24 years and later a commissioner with the Kittitas County Water District #6 in Vantage. He served as an elder at various churches he attended, most recently with the Riverside Community Church of Desert Aire.

Harold is fondly remembered for his dry sense of humor similar to his boyhood hero humorist Will Rogers, who was famous for saying, “I never met a man I didn’t like.” Harold never said a bad word about anyone, well…maybe he had a few choice words about current politicians.

He enjoyed the simple pleasures in life such as tinkering in the garage and never met an empty carton that he couldn’t repurpose into other things and never met a torn piece of fabric that he couldn’t stitch up.

Harold is survived by his wife Lorna of 73 years; a sister Mary Jones; son Scott (Charlotte) Kortum; son Eric (Sharon) Kortum; daughter Krista Kortum; granddaughter Katie Kortum and many nieces and nephews. A celebration of Harold’s life will be held on Saturday, Sept. 18, at 2 p.m. at the Riverside Community Church, 5 Desert Aire Drive SW, Mattawa, Wash.

A reception will follow at the Desert Aire Room at the Desert Aire Clubhouse, 504 Clubhouse Way SW, Mattawa, Wash.