July 19, 2019–December 28, 2019
Charles Stewart Harber, after 99 well lived years, died peacefully at his Templeton home Saturday, December 28, 2019. He was born in Abilene, Texas, July 19, 1920 to William Arthur and Susan Tira Harber. Charles spent his early years working on the family farm which included growing cotton, milking cows,raising cattle, operating and repairing machinery. He vividly remembered the Dust Bowl, recalling it whenever he would see dense banks of dark smoke.
Because they were able to live off what the farm produced, he said the Great Depression didn’t hurt his family as much as those who lived in town.
When World War II erupted, Charles, along with two cousins, traveled to Lubbock, TX to join the Air Corps. After completing basic training he took his first train ride to Fort Dix, New York and then a troopship to Liverpool, England. Eventually, Thurleigh, England became his home, along with the ‘Mighty 8th’ (Air Force) 306th Bomb Group.
Repairing airplanes, mostly B17s’ flying in from bombing runs and getting them back into the air for combat was Charles’s life from 1942 until 1945. He was the first to arrive and the last to leave, staying six months after VE Day. One of the duties of the unit after VE Day was to secure cameras in bomb turrets to film the destruction and decimation of war-torn Europe.
Charles was honorably discharged December 1945 at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.
Once back home in Texas, Charles, along with his lovely English bride, Irene, had a new vision for their life.
Together they made their way to the San Francisco Bay Area where Charles began a career with United Airlines. A family of four sons, Stuart, Perry, William and Richard and one daughter, Patricia followed as the Harbers settled into life in the Bay Area.
In a tragic auto accident in 1977, son Stuart, who had been in the Air Force and served in Vietnam, lost his life. It was a heartbreaking loss for the closely-knit family.
During his thirty years at United, Charles worked in nearly every department from mechanics to inspection.
He often rode his bicycle from home, across the freeway, to the United terminal, sliding in just in time to start a new day.
And nearly every day was a good one for Charles. The sparkle in his eye and smile on his face, along with a friendly greeting in his soft drawl, was welcomed by all he met. He enjoyed meeting new people and cared deeply about family and friends.
As retirement approached, the Harbers moved to Pacific Grove, CA where they enjoyed life on the Monterey Bay Peninsula. Sadly, after fifty years of marriage, in 1990, Irene passed away. Charles did some traveling as well as work with his son, Perry, building a Glasair II airplane. He enjoyed flying with Perry, always proud of their accomplishment.
It was ten years later when Charles and Jeanie would meet, and a year later, marry. After some time spent in Texas and some foreign travel, they were ready for a change.
Templeton became their home.
Charles became involved with Estrella Warbirds Museum, working in the restoration section. He thoroughly enjoyed going out to the Museum three days a week and working with his buddies on restoring vintage aircraft and military automobiles. He was dedicated to this until Valley Fever cut short his activity in 2017.
Honor Flight was a highlight for Charles. He learned of this organization from neighbors, Greg and Bear McGill and was enthusiastic to join. He spoke often of his Honor Flight trip and always with humility and reverence. His children gifted him with a succeeding trip visiting many similar landmarks; it was equally outstanding in his life.
A total surprise for Charles came when he was chosen Veteran of the Year, in 2016. The ceremony at the
Faces of Freedom memorial in Atascadero was a source of pride for Charles and his family.
Charles Harber was so much more than words can describe. A true gentleman, he listened to whatever you had to say. He was intelligent. He was honest and generous. Charles was humble and kind. He was non-judgmental. He was loyal and he was fair.
And he could fix anything! If he couldn’t fix it he would invent something to replace it.
The skills and life lessons he taught his children, grandchildren, wife and extended family will remain with them always.
There will never be another Charles Harber.
Charles is survived: by his wife Jeanie Abel Harber, Templeton; son, Perry (Wendy) of Pacific Grove, CA; William (Susie), Pacific Grove; Patricia Brown, Pacific Grove; Richard (Maureen) of Burlingame CA.
Also surviving are grandchildren: Summer Brown, Tony Brown, Ryan Harber, Jeffrey Harber Lauren Harber, Cristina Harber, great granddaughter, Koya Brown and great grandsons, Maddox Brown and Eli Harman; Bennett Brown and Callen Brown.
Preceding Charles in death were: his parents, William Arthur and Tira Harber; his wife of fifty years, Irene Harber; son, Stuart and a sister, Willene Poston of Odessa, Texas
Private services will be held.
Charles’s favorite charities are: Lupus Foundation of America – lupus.org Estrella Warbirds – ewarbirds.org
Honor Flight – honorflightccc.org