Michael (Mike) J. Harper was born May 28, 1948, to Ray and Janet Harper in Marion, Ohio. Mike died at home under Hospice care on March 20, 2023. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his sister, Lynda Kae Harper. Mike is survived by his brother Steve Harper (Judi Moseley) of Columbus, niece Frida Thien (Gil Rose), Erick Thien (Dawn Thein), many great and great-great nieces and nephews and cousin, John Douglas Gruber of Columbus. He is also survived by his wife, Maris Moore, and many, many friends too numerous to list here. However, the family wishes to recognize and thank two of Mike’s longtime friends, Barbara Young and Tom Moore, who provided him (and his pets) with an incredible amount of support and care over the last several months of his illness. They were truly “Angels of Mercy”. Mike is also survived by his faithful Dachshund companion, Joe, who remained steadfastly by his side during his illness and three cats (Sophie, Bo and Pearl) who were lucky enough to be taken in by Mike.
Mike graduated from Marion Harding High School in 1966 and attended three years at The Ohio State University. He worked as a repair technician at the Adding Machine and Typewriter Exchange, the family business, for over 26 years giving new life to broken or old typewriters and adding machines. He was a master at all things mechanical and enjoyed fixing bikes, motorcycles and cars.
Mike also worked for the Ohio Department of Youth Services as a Corrections Officer starting at the Marion Juvenile Correctional Facility in the mid-2000s. When that facility closed he went to work for the Mohican Juvenile Correctional Facility, then the Indian River facility in Massillon and finished his career at Scioto Juvenile Correctional Facility retiring in 2013. He worked with both boys and girls who were incarcerated. Barb, a co-worker as well as a friend, remembers him as being firm, fair and consistent with the youth; talking with them without judgement and that some of them thought he was a “cool older dude”.
Mike loved animals, nature, music and all kinds of sports and games: pool, darts, dominoes, bowling, baseball, tennis, etc. He played on numerous pool, tennis, dart and bowling leagues and played baseball in Marion City Leagues from 1958 to 1964. During the mid-70s through mid-80s Mike was part of a brotherhood of eight friends who regularly played spirited games of tennis, football, basketball and more. He liked to walk in the woods and enjoyed sitting by a lake or river appreciating the quiet and beauty.
One of Mike’s greatest loves was owning and riding motorcycles which were a major part of his life. He participated in many charity runs and regularly rode by himself and with friends in Central Ohio and throughout the state in remote areas on his bikes and in his cars. Friends who went with him on rides said they were often confused and lost as to where they were only to have Mike say, “You’ll see; just wait.” And within a few minutes they would emerge on a state route or near a small town. Barb remembered that he would say “You have to go a little farther than everyone else.”
Tom said that “My thrill seeking, and carefree characteristics and Mike’s sensible and practical (somewhat) characteristics made a good match for our friendship. We rode Harley Davidson’s together and played many hours of pool, both of which he mentored me on and much, much more. Thanks, Mike.” Tom also reflected that “When Mike discovered some joy, he liked to share it with friends.” Mike was also a member of American Legion 584 and spent many hours there over the years.
Mike played guitar and played bass in the Marion band, “Rebel Wind”. Mike also jammed with his brother, Steve, on guitar and cousin, Doug Gruber, on drums, and others at various parties in Marion, Columbus and Troy, Ohio. Mike also played with a band of friends in Columbus called, “Steel Pasta”.
A Celebration of Life for Mike Harper will be held on Saturday, May 13 from 2:00 – 4:00 at American Legion Post 584 located at 142 Olney Ave. in Marion, Ohio.
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