Planning Commissioner Robert Harding dies

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By Brian Beckley

The Courier-Herald

Bonney Lake Planning Commissioner and retired police captain Robert Harding died Oct. 4 at Good Samaritan Hospital. He was 74.

Though his death was unexpected, Harding was admitted to Good Samaritan Sept. 29 because he was having trouble breathing and his pulse rate was low. He also had indications of kidney trouble, including increased potassium and creatinine in his system.

Harding, who had a history of congestive heart failure, diabetes and cancer, had a pacemaker installed Sept. 30. According to his wife, Elaine, doctors did everything that could be done to revive him.

Harding was a longtime figure in the community through his time with the police department and with the Planning Commission.

Harding began his career in the U.S. Air Force where he served for 20 years. Harding was a chief warrant officer and served during the Korean War as well as in Vietnam.

After retiring from military service, the Hardings moved to Bonney Lake, where he served as a reserve policeman before officially joining the force in 1972. Harding rose to the rank of captain before he retired in 1995.

”I learned a lot from him,“ said former police chief Bryan Jeter, who served with Harding.

”He was a heck of a guy,“ Jeter continued. ”There's a huge void in Bonney Lake.“

Harding stayed active in the community with Kiwanis and was a founding member of the Bonney Lake Rotary and original Lions Club and was appointed of the Planning Commission in 2001.

”He loved to serve,“ Elaine Harding said. ”He was so proud to serve his country and community.“

According to Planning Commission Clerk Christy McQuillen, Harding focused most on school and park issues.

”He was always in support of any application or anything under review on the schools,“ an emotional McQuillen said last week.

McQuillen said she always appreciated seeing Harding before the meetings and he was always quick with a smile or to offer advice during difficult times.

”Every time I walked in the room before Planning Commission, he always said the same thing: ‘Hey Christy, how're you doing? How are the girls?'“ McQuillen said. ”It was more than just business, it was personal.“

Other members of the planning commission warmly remembered Harding as well, taking a moment of silence during the Oct. 5 meeting to remember him.

”I was lucky to sit next to him,“ said commissioner Grant Sulham.

Commissioner Dennis Poulson called Harding a ”phenomenal mentor“ and all said his knowledge of the city was a great resource to the group.

”He was our history,“ McQuillen agreed.

Commission members also said it was Harding who added the phrase ”so moved“ to meetings and was usually the first one to arrive.

”I always tried to beat him here, but I never could,“ Chairman Randy McKibbin said.

According to his wife, Harding was also an amateur photographer and enjoyed scuba diving, boating and fishing in Puget Sound, as well as golfing. He was also active in the Calvary Community Church and the New Life Community Church.

Harding is survived by his wife, Elaine, daughter Cathy Cunningham, son-in-law Terry Cunningham, grandson Theron Cunningham and granddaughter Keira Hartman and grandson-in-law Chris Hartman.

A service was scheduled for Tuesday at the Calvary Community Church and Harding will be buried at Mt. Tahoma with full military honors.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Calvary Community Church or the New Life Community Church.

Brian Beckley can be reached at

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