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Thomas “T” Michael Harper, 66, of Kalispell, Montana, passed away peacefully on November 16, 2018, surrounded by his loving family, at HealthCenter Northwest following a brief illness.
Tom was born May 16, 1952, to Nancy and Charles “Tom” Harper in Columbus, Ohio. Tom graduated from Saint Agatha School and Jones Junior High School, then went on to graduate from Upper Arlington High School in 1970. “T” then attended Ohio State University, majoring in biology.
In his youth, “T” enjoyed playing baseball as an all-star catcher and loved visiting Lake Erie with his brother, Bob. His father, along with lifelong friend and mentor Andy Smith, taught him many of the construction skills that he used throughout his career as a general contractor. “T” always enjoyed fishing with his father, Tom, and they also shared a love of flying airplanes. “T” spent time watching NCAA basketball tournaments with his mother, Nancy, and they shared a love of golf.
In August 1974, “T” married Sue Williams. They dreamt of living in a cabin in the mountains and moved to Montana in September of 1974. Living off-grid for several years at Mountain Meadows, they were surrounded by wildlife. “T” and Sue enjoyed backpacking in and around Glacier National Park, and together they relished countless adventures in life.
In 1978, “T” and Sue welcomed their first daughter, Shannon, and in 1983, their second daughter, Kelly. They moved down into the valley and spent the next 33 years living on the Flathead river. “T” loved living on beautiful Foy's Bend, building bonfires with good friends and sitting on the back porch enjoying the view.
Tom became one of the finest builders in the Flathead. Working alongside his close friend and favorite nail pounding buddy, Dan Boon, they built many custom homes throughout the valley. Tom's attention to detail and quality of workmanship shone through from the ground up, especially in his top-of-the-line cabinetry and finish carpentry. Tom was always willing to lend a hand. He was an outstanding mentor and shared his knowledge and passion for woodworking with many.
Tom was a dedicated softball coach with Kalispell Youth Softball Association for years. In 1994, Tom founded the Glacier Emeralds girls' fast-pitch softball team. The travel team enabled many athletes, including both his daughters, to play summer ball throughout the northwest. In 2002, after taking second place at Nationals, Tom proudly retired from coaching.
“T” was always a big fan of the Upper Arlington Golden Bears, Ohio State Buckeyes, Cincinnati Reds, and, above all else, the Montana Grizzlies. He loved listening to Mick Holien call the Griz games on the radio…“Touchdown Montana!!”
“T” spent much of his life in the grandeur that was his backyard. He became especially fond of the South Fork of the Flathead; nothing could really top fishing and floating that river in his book. He appreciated the solitude of wilderness, campfires, wildflowers and spending time on horse back in Big Sky Country. He loved camping, fishing the Spotted Bear River and taking his daughters hunting.
“T” will be lovingly remembered by Sue, his wife of 44 years; his mother, Nancy B. (Harper) Simeon and brother Bob (Ginny) Harper of Columbus, OH; his daughters, Shannon (Ryan) Donaldson of Columbia Falls, MT and Kelly (Alen) Shults of Livingston, MT; his grandsons Chandan, Bridger, Emmet and Skylar Donaldson and Rylen Shults.
A celebration of his life will be held Tuesday, November 20th from 6-8pm at Darlington Cremation and Burial Service, 3408 US Hwy 2 East, Kalispell, Montana. Condolences, memories and photos can be shared at www.darlingtonfunerals.com.
The family is grateful to all the teams of professionals at Kalispell Regional Medical Center that cared for “T” and helped all of us every step of the way.
Memorial donations may be made to The Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation, Box 190688, Hungry Horse, MT 59919, www.bmwf.org.