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Obituary: Ralph Ray Harding

Published: Monday, Oct. 30 2006 12:13 p.m. MST

Ralph Ray Harding Blackfoot, Idaho Ralph Ray Harding, 77, of Blackfoot, passed away Thursday, October 26, 2006 at the Bingham Memorial Hospital. He was born September 9, 1929 in Malad City, Idaho to Ralph William and Kathryn Olson Harding. He attended school in St. Anthony and Malad City, returning to St. Anthony to graduate. He attended University of Utah and graduated from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah in 1956. He later received his Master's Degree from Idaho State University. Ralph served in the United States Army during the Korean Conflict, he was a commissioned lieutenant at the time of his discharge. He was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He served a two year mission in Kansas and Oklahoma. On August 11, 1954 he married Wilhelmina Conrad in the Idaho Falls Temple. They have been happily married for 52 years and are the proud parents of five children. Ralph was elected to the Idaho House of Representatives in 1955. He worked as comptroller at American Potato, Co. from 1957 to 1960, when he was elected as a Democrat to the Eighty-seventh and Eighty-eighth Congresses where he was the youngest member of Congress serving during the Kennedy Administration. He sponsored legislation establishing the Peace Corps, was a sponsor and great supporter of Civil Rights legislation, worked for equal pay for women, served on the Agriculture Committee and sponsored legislation supporting farmers and building dams. In 1965-1966 he served as Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Air Force. He resumed business pursuits in 1967 and has since served as Democratic National Committeeman from Idaho, divisional vice president, E.F. Hutton Financial Services, advisor and consultant to the Philippine sugar industry, as a special advisor to Richard Bowen at Idaho State University from 1989 to 1999. In 1976 he was co-founder of the Danny Thompson Memorial Golf Tournament which has now raised millions to fund cancer research for the past 30 years. In 1992 he was named Statesman of the Year by the Idaho State University chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha. Ralph rejoined the USDA in December 1999 and served until his retirement on December 31, 2005. He was a life member of the American Legion and the Air Force Association. Ralph was an avid golfer and sports fan, especially rooting for BYU. At the time of his death he was an ordinance worker in the Idaho Falls Temple, a Gospel Doctrine and Temple Preparation teacher and diligent home teacher. Ralph never met a stranger; he loved people so much. He remained in contact with friends all over the world. He had a remarkable talent for remembering names. Ralph was very generous in sharing the marvelous experiences he had in his life. He was a devoted husband, father, brother and a loving grandfather. His family is so grateful for the legacy of family loyalty and duty to God and country he has given them. He is survived by his wife, Willa; his children, Ralph D. (Reggie) Harding, Boise, Cherie (Kirk) Clawson, Blackfoot, Charlene (Glenn) Johnson, Salt Lake City, John Kennedy (LaNae) Harding, Kuna, Cozette Munsee, Blackfoot, 24 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren. Also two sisters, Joyce Freidenberger, Malad, Alice Miller, Tucson, AZ, three brothers, George R. (Jacque) Harding, Mesquite, NV, Donald (Janet) Harding, Soda Springs, and Thomas H. (Monica) Harding, Malad. Peceded in death by his parents, a granddaughter, Laken LaNae Harding, a sister, Nadine Cox and son in law, Marvin J. Harper. A funeral service will be held at 11:00 a.m. Monday, October 30, 2006 at the Blackfoot LDS Stake Center at 1650 Highland Dr. with Bishop David Case conducting. The family will meet with friends and relatives from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Sunday, October 29, 2006 at the Hawker Funeral Home, 132 S. Shilling Ave. and again for one hour prior to services at the church. Interment will be at 3:30 p.m. Monday, October 30, 2006 at the Malad City Cemetery in Malad, Idaho. The family suggest memorials to Primary Children's Medical Center in Salt Lake City, UT.

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