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Local politicians remember Elaine Harder

WORTHINGTON — Rep. Rod Hamilton said Elaine Harder was a “beautiful person.”

Former politician Doug Magnus said she was “a fine American.”

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Harder passed away on Sept. 24 and was laid to rest Saturday at the Rosehill Mennonite Cemetery in Westbrook.

From 1995 until 2004, Harder represented District 22B in the Minnesota House of Representatives.

“I served with her and sat right next to her on the floor in the House,” said Magnus, who was a state representative and a senator, representing southwest Minnesota. “I don’t how you could put it any better than to say she was a fine lady and a fine American.”

After Harder concluded her tenure in the legislature, she helped Hamilton on the campaign trail.

“She was actually my campaign manager when I was first endorsed and running,” Hamilton said. “Elaine was just a wonderful person through and through. She was always true to her values, and she never compromised and never wavered in her values and what she truly believed in.”

Hamilton said he looked at Harder as more than just a campaign manager.

“She was just a great person and a great role model,” he said. “She was a wonderful mentor. She was smart, she was compassionate and just a wonderful leader. She represented our area very, very well and did a lot of good for the state of Minnesota.”

In her years as a representative, Harder often served on committees dealing with agriculture.

“She was chairperson of the House Agriculture Committee and she was very proud of that,” Magnus said. “Growing up in the Westbrook area and being involved in agriculture the whole time, she was very pleased to have been able to be chairman of the ag committee.”

She also served on taxes committees throughout her tenure.

Both Magnus and Hamilton said they learned from Harder.

“I think a couple things I learned from her was you should be honored to represent people there at the Capitol,” Magnus said. “You should conduct yourself with dignity and integrity and respect others. Also, Elaine wouldn’t really get mad at anyone — she could get even if she needed to.”

“She had a way about her that she commanded respect and was very respectful of others,” Magnus continued. “She treated people very well and in return, they repaid her with that. She studied hard, and she worked hard. She knew what she was doing, and she knew who to turn to for help. That’s another thing you learn, also — you don’t know everything and no one gets their way all the time. You need to figure out who to go to to get through the days up there.”

For Hamilton, he learned to be true to himself.

“You can stand up for what you believe in, but don’t compromise your morals,” he said. “It’s one of those things to compromise and negotiate and stuff like that, but don’t lose track of who you are.

“Don’t lose track of who you are, where you came from. When it comes to compromise, you can compromise and negotiate and you can strategize and do all that, but don’t compromise your morals and beliefs,” Hamilton added.

Harder was born Dec. 27, 1947 to Russell and Eunice (Haas) Rupp. She graduated from Storden High School in 1966 and Mankato State University in 1970. She married husband Ronald on July 17, 1970.

She had been a home economics teacher in St. James and Lakefield, had a radio show for Windom Radio, and was a columnist for Purple Circle magazine, office manager for Harder Livestock, a salesperson for Livewire Printing Co., a University of Minnesota Extension agent for the Cottonwood County and insurance agent for Harder and Associates Insurance Company. She was a five-term State Representative for District 22B in the Minnesota House, and a freelance public relationship agent for the Farmer’s Co-op for its 100th anniversary.

Harder was also a member of the Jackson Kiwanis, the Sanford Hospital Board and the Jackson Area Chamber of Commerce. She was a very active member of the Republican Party, and had been a founding member of the Beta Clovia Sorority while going to school in Mankato. She had also been a member of many boards in her life time.

“She helped a lot of people and she would always go out of her way to try to help folks who needed some help,” Magnus said.