James Samuel Harding
December 27, 1929 – April 20, 2020
James Samuel Harding, 90, a farmer, teacher, outdoorsman, and longtime resident of Williamson, NY, died April 20, 2020, from complications related to a fall, The Villages, FL.
Born in New Brighton, PA, to parents Cyril and Emma Harding, Jim grew up hunting, fishing, and trapping the woods, rivers, and streams of Beaver County, PA. During these years he developed a work ethic second-to-none, from delivering papers and mowing lawns to welding in his Uncle Frank’s foundry during WWII.
After graduating high school in 1947, Jim attended Penn State University where he fell in love with Marjorie Brunner. He left Penn State in 1950, joined the Army, served three years in Korea, and was honorably discharged as a Staff Sargent. Returning stateside, Jim married Marj and finished his degree in agricultural education. A master’s degree in education, also from Penn State, followed in the early 1960’s.
Jim taught Agriculture and Ag Mechanics in the West Perry County, PA School District and at BOCES, in Williamson, NY. He retired from teaching in 1985 to devote his considerable energy to the Cottage Street farm, where he had lived with his family and worked summers and after school since 1969. For 35-plus years he sold produce on the Syracuse Farmer’s Market. Jim’s daughters remember dinners where beverages and condiments were the only edibles on the table Jim hadn’t grown, raised, or caught fishing.
Jim was active in the Presbyterian Church, a member of the American Legion, a Mason, served on the ambulance squad, and town park committee. From mentoring “Future Farmers of America” in the 1950’s and 60’s, to leading a youth group with his wife in the 1970’s, and providing countless summer jobs on the farm, Jim took a lifelong interest in working with young people. Nephew Buz Plesser remembered, “Jim taught me to swim, fish, shoot a gun, drive a truck, and swear like a real man. He was my larger than life hero, and I was lucky to have him as my Uncle.”
Granddaughters Kristin Dunn and Blair Geaney shared endless adventures with “Poppie” during the month they spent on the farm each summer and earned their first “real” money working with him on the Syracuse Market. Blair named her baby girl, Clara James, in his honor. The day before Jim and Marj left Williamson, for the last time, to move to Florida, Jim mowed three acres of The Harding Farm, on his tractor, in the rain.
Besides his parents and wife of 66 years, Jim was predeceased by his sister, Sylvia Holzworth, and uncle, Frank Harding. He is survived by daughters Maggie Hollingsworth (John) and Kayta Curry (Brent), two granddaughters, two great granddaughters, sisters Dorothy Diedle and Marilyn Volinic, six nieces and five nephews.
A memorial service will be held at a future date.
Online condolences may be expressed at www.youngfuneralhome.com.