June 19, 1950 — August 22, 2023
Charles Kenneth Harder, age 73, of Mountain Lake, MN, passed away on August 22, 2023, in Mankato following a stroke.
He was born on June 19, 1950, to Leo and Ruth (Burkhard) Harder in Mountain Lake, MN. After his mother’s death, he lived for two years with his uncle Albert and aunt Bessie’s family until his father’s remarriage to Gladys E. Harder in 1959.
Active as a teenager in both high school and community choral productions, Charles often played the pipe organ for the Sunday service at First Mennonite. After graduating from Mountain Lake High School in 1968, he attended Bethel College in North Newton, KS for two years. He transferred to St. Olaf College and sang in the St. Olaf Choir, graduating in 1972. He earned a Master of Music degree, and did additional coursework in choral music education at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
Charles conducted high school choirs in Lake Crystal, MN, Aurora, IL, and Inver Grove Heights, MN. He sang bass in the Dale Warland Singers, and served as organist for several churches in Mankato and the Twin Cities. He retired from teaching middle school music in Inver Grove Heights in 2006, and moved back to Mountain Lake.
He purchased and dismantled a pipe organ from a Lutheran church in Newark, NJ, and reassembled it in his Mountain Lake home, one of the largest in-home pipe organs in Minnesota. He also enjoyed doing field work and harvesting his brother Gordon’s fields of corn and soybeans.
Charles liked bicycling on rural roads and trails, and sailing his 36-foot sailboat on Lake Superior. During his retirement he traveled extensively in the U.S., spending winters in France and more recently in Mexico. Generous, with a healthy sense of humor, he made an amazing recovery from his first hemorrhagic stroke in 2012.
A memorial service was held on Sunday, September 3, 2023, at Bethel Mennonite Church in Mountain Lake, Minnesota.