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Richard Eugene Harney

Richard Eugene Harney, 74, passed peacefully in his home in Maryville, Missouri on February 18th, 2022 surrounded by his three loving daughters and wife. Richard was the second of three sons born to James and Mable on September 23rd, 1947 in Osceola, IA. He grew up on a family farm near Van Wert, IA. The family roots ran deep as Mabel was born in the farmhouse where he was raised, and he spent countless hours playing with his cousins who lived across the street and down the gravel road. Here, he developed a strong work ethic. He enjoyed his animal chores, even though he said he didn’t like cleaning out the stinky pig pen. Richard and his brothers, Robert and Russell, were active in 4-H where they took pride in showing their animals. He overcame polio at the early age of 4, which led him to volunteer as a Rotary member later in life due the organization’s initiative to focus on ridding the world of the disease. Richard’s parents had solid Christian values that continued to carry on throughout his everyday life, and he lived those values to his core. He graduated high school from Cental Decatur in Leon, IA in 1965.

Richard attended Graceland College and finished his collegiate education at Northwest Missouri State University in 1969 with a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Arts Education and a minor in Psychology. After college, he taught at multiple locations including Hocker Grove in Shawnee, KS and the Des Moines Area Community College where he further honed his craftmanship skills. He also met his bride-to-be, Saundra, who was teaching at the time. They were united in marriage on August 31st, 1975 at Ber-Mart, a beloved family property. Of this marriage they were blessed with three children, NyEela, Latisha, and Kylene.

He began his 29-year Hy-Vee career in 1978 at a Des Moines area store. He worked his way up the ladder as an assistant store director in Omaha and then was appointed store director in Tarkio, MO in 1991. He finished his Hy-Vee career after retiring as store director in Shenandoah, IA in 2007. His 17 years spent as store director allowed him to engage in many community activities and facilitated his natural desire to serve others.

While living in Tarkio, Richard and his family attended First Baptist Church where he served as a Deacon and taught Sunday School. Following retirement and being empty nesters, Rich and Saundra moved to Maryville, MO. They felt at home at Laura Street Baptist Church; there Richard continued teaching Sunday School and developed new friendships. One of Rich’s favorite church activities was the live nativity where he delighted in running the hot chocolate station.

Following retirement, Rich couldn’t wait to grind the rust off his father’s vintage Farmall tractor and fully restore it to its glory. Richard made multiple appearances in local parades with his tractor, where he brought home the 1st place trophy several times. You could often find him outside tinkering with his John Deere mower, getting it ready to cut the grass, or see the grandkids lined up to take a ride on the mower with Papa! He found joy in maintaining the yard, golfing, woodworking, catching the sunset, helping a neighbor or anyone in need, fishing with the grandkids, and treating his family to ice cream. Even with a terminal cancer diagnosis, he never once complained, never asked ‘why me,’ and continued to think of others first even in his final days. His faith never wavered; it only grew stronger, saying “Jesus has never left me” in his last days. Throughout his life he led by example, embodying patience, kindness, generosity, and inclusivity, and his legacy of gentle guidance will be passed down through the generations.

Besides his parents, Richard was preceded in death by his brother Russell. Richard leaves to cherish his memory: his spouse and partner of 46 years, Saundra (Nurnberg) Harney of the home; his three children: NyEela Harney of Maryville, MO, Latisha (Jordan) Alsys of Stilwell, KS, and Kylene (Shaun) Defenbaugh of Warrensburg, MO; 7 grandchildren: Oliver and Colt Defenbaugh, Olive, Vivian, and Finn Madden, Thor and Aida Alsys; brother Robert (Rita) Harney of West Des Moines, IA and numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, extended family members and friends.

A memorial service will be held at Laura Street Baptist Church in Maryville, MO on Saturday, March 5th, 2022 at 2:30 P.M. Visitation will be held prior to the service from 1-2:30 P.M. In honor of Richard’s favorite treats, we will be scooping up sundaes and Pepsi floats immediately following the service in the fellowship hall.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the Laura Street Baptist Church, Van Wert Cemetery (resting place of Richard’s family), or St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.

Private family inurnment will be held at a later date.


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