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Published: Tuesday, 7/14/2009

Township trustee in Ottawa County led Boy Scouts

ELMORE - John C. Haar, 57, a trustee in western Ottawa County's Harris Township who was devoted to his community and loved to try new things including magic tricks, fireworks, and cooking, died yesterday in his home.

He died of liver cancer, said his wife of 33 years, Beverly.

A longtime township trustee, he was known as an official who knew the community he grew up in and listened to residents' concerns.

He served two consecutive terms, having been elected in 2001 and 2005, and planned to run again when his term ended this year, Mrs. Haar said.

Mr. Haar served at least one other term as trustee in the 1990s, she said.

"He felt he had the people in the township, their hearts at the front of his mind," she said. "When a resident had an issue with something, he wanted to be there and tried to make a difference."

Most recently, Mr. Haar was involved with discussions to combine the township's fire and emergency medical services.

"He was a very good trustee and very concerned about the people," fellow township trustee Kenneth Neeb said. "He was just a very concerned person and liked his community."

Mr. Neeb and Jerald Haar, another township trustee and a distant relative, said John Haar will be missed on the board.

"He's real positive in his thinking and he's not afraid to say what he thinks," Jerald Haar said. "I thought he was a real benefit to the township because he was informed and knew what he was talking about."

Mr. Haar's professional career was in railroading, spanning more than 40 years.

After graduating from Woodmore High School in 1969, Mr. Haar joined the former Penn Central. He stayed with the company as a maintenance supervisor in charge of tracks as it switched hands to Conrail and Norfolk Southern. Most recently he was a railroad supervisor for the Ann Arbor Railroad-Shortline Railroad.

A railroad co-worker got him interested in magic by showing him a few illusions. Mr. Haar didn't like them to be called tricks.

His wife said he'd come home and tell her about them, and he was so interested she got him lessons for Christmas one year.

"Like everything else, once he got interested, he went full speed ahead with it," she said.

He started doing shows for his children and the local library and soon was traveling to perform. Many of the Haars' summer vacations would coincide with performances, Mrs. Haar said.

In the late 1980s, Mr. Haar was invited to perform at Magic Castle in Hollywood, which is a big honor, Mrs. Haar said.

Always one to try something new, Mr. Haar received his professional license for pyrotechnics after years of shooting off fireworks for family and friends. Mr. Haar worked with Pete Willet Fireworks for Independence Day and other events.

The Boy Scouts was one of Mr. Haar's passions, his wife said. He was a Scout himself, as was his son, Levi.

Mr. Haar was a Scout leader for Troop 314 in Elmore for a long time and was involved on the Boy Scout Council. Later he instructed Wood Badge leadership classes for future leaders of the Scouts.

He went to the National Scout Jamboree several times.

Mr. Haar liked seeing how the boys matured through the program and enjoyed the camping, Mrs. Haar said.

Cooking for the boys on those camping trips got him interested in that too, and he started reading magazines and watching cooking TV shows.

He turned into quite a chef, making chocolate cakes as well as lasagna that he learned during a trip to Italy, his wife said

"My husband was always the one who enjoyed a new challenge," Mrs. Haar said. "Something would take his fancy and he would decide he was interested and give it a try."

Surviving are his wife, Beverly, son, Levi, daughter, Ashley, parents, Calvin and Betty, and brother, Jeff.

Visitation will be after 2 p.m. Thursday in Crosser Funeral Home in Elmore.

Services will be at 11 a.m. Friday at St. Paul Trinity United Methodist Church in Elmore, of which he was a member.

The family suggests tributes to the Boy Scouts of America-Eagle Bay District, American Cancer Society, or the church.



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