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JOHN F. HARDER

Died: Wed., Jan. 16, 2008

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John F. Harder, 91, of 200 Leeder Hill Drive, Hamden, passed away Jan. 16, 2007 after a brief illness. He was the beloved husband of Lucille Esposito Harder. Born in Milford Dec. 23, 1916, he was the son of the late Alfred J. & Marion Gebhardt Harder, and the stepson of Helen Duggan Harder. Mr. Harder had a long career in the field of public welfare in New York & Connecticut. From the early 1950's until his retirement in the 1980's, he served at many levels of administration, including Deputy Commissioner and Commissioner of Welfare during the administrations of Governors Abraham A. Ribicoff and John Dempsey, and was District Director of the New Haven Office, Dept. of Income Maintenance when he retired. He was active in various community agencies as a volunteer and member of a number of boards and advisory committees, including Child & Family Services, So. Central CT. Chapter of American Red Cross, United Ways of Bridgeport & New Haven, and Friends of the New Haven Public Library. After graduation from Holy Cross College in 1937, he returned to New Haven to begin his working life at the Department of Charities. In 1939, he joined the Connecticut National Guard, 208th Coast Artillery, just before the outbreak of World War II. In 1943, while serving in the South Pacific, he was commissioned a lieutenant in the US Army, 209th Antiaircraft Artillery. After the war, he entered graduate school under the GI bill and earned a Master of Arts degree from the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. He married the former Lucille Esposito in August 1945 with whom he raised 4 sons, Michael J. Harder of New Haven, Peter J. Harder of Nice, France, Christopher M. Harder of Santa Cruz, CA. & James Harder of Brecksville, OH. He was a grandfather of 6 boys: Matthew, Stephen, Joshua, Loic, Christopher Ian and Eric; and great grandfather of 5 children: Braeden James, Kealey Lauren, John Peter, Monroe Olivia & Keaton Avery. He did dishes and changed diapers for decades. He quoted Winnie-the-Pooh at the most appropriate times. Whenever he was needed by a friend, he could usually be found in Hundred Acre Wood, sitting back to back with one grandson or another, having a little something together. Also surviving are 3 sisters, Cecily Kikukawa of Hawaii, Jean Harder of PA. and Monica Kelly of FL. He was predeceased by a sister, Joan Harder, formerly of Southbury. A long time parishioner of St. Bernadette's Church in Morris Cove, Mr. Harder lived the last 4 years of his life at Whitney Center and attended Blessed Sacrament Church. At Whitney Center, he was an active member of the community, and was particularly involved with the film society. Friends may call at The Celentano Funeral Home, 424 Elm St. (cor. Dwight), New Haven Monday, Jan 21st from 3 to 6 PM. And are invited to attend a Mass of Christian Burial in Blessed Sacrament Church, 321 Circular Ave., Hamden Tuesday morning at 10:00. Interment in Evergreen Cemetery, New Haven.

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