Bob Harder Passes Away

by Dave Johnson

Robert (Bob) Harder died in Spokane, WA on January 17th at the age of 89. Bob is survived by his wife, Josephine of Spokane; children, Carlee Harder-Brown (Rich) of Los Gatos, CA; Shanny Harder Ronald of Felton, CA; Mark Harder (Margaret) of Bothell, WA; Chris Harder (Kelly) of Huntington Beach, CA; Amy Blackburn of Tacoma, WA; Maggie Erickson of Tacoma, WA and Kevin Harder of Spokane, WA.

Bob was a cattle rancher for 50 years in the Ritzville, WA area. In his leisure time, Bob became a black belt in judo. This true passion defined Bob as he was a central figure in the judo community, known as Sensei Harder. Bob was still teaching judo months before his passing. Judo took him around the world and into many experiences and life-long friendships.

In the 1950s, he co-founded the Pacific Judo Academy and, throughout the 1950s and ’60s, competed frequently at the national level.  Sensei Harder competed in 1964 at the Olympic Trials in New York City at the World’s Fair.  Through the 1970s, he was Uke to Nakamura Sensei (Kudan) at several high-level clinics and was instrumental in forming the Northwest Judo Yudanshakai.  He served on the USJF in many roles, including the Board of Examiners, Standards Committee, and many more.  In the 1990s, the International Office at the Kodokan asked him to teach the Kodokan Summer Course for Foreigners, which he did with enthusiasm.

Bob was a true animal lover, having many dogs and horses throughout his life, including Cobalt, Fung, Big Daddy and Peppy Right.

It is with great appreciation that we remember Sensei Harder and offer his family and many students worldwide our sincere condolences.  There will be a memorial service in Spokane on Saturday, April 6th.