The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


March 14, 2014

Robert E. Harwell

CARTHAGE, Mo. — Robert Eugene Harwell, teacher to thousands of students over a career of 40 years, died peacefully at the Missouri Veterans Home in Mt. Vernon, Mo., on March 12, 2014.

Robert had been living at home in Carthage, Mo., with his wife, Nancy until January 2014. Robert taught in the public school systems of Texas and Missouri imparting knowledge of his subject matters but also offering  a life wisdom to all young people with whom he came in contact. A brilliant academic, he brought humor, compassion and a glimpse of a man who loved life to all who entered his classroom, taught with him and knew him as a friend. His joie de vivre extended far beyond the classroom.  Robert was involved in Carthage Missouri's community theatre for many years playing memorable roles in "George M", "The Mikado" and other productions. He contributed his wonderful tenor voice to both the choir of the Church of the Heavenly Rest, Episcopal in Abilene, Texas and after moving his family to Missouri, the Grace Episcopal Church choir in Carthage. He and Nancy were regular volunteers at the Nearly New Consignment Shop in Carthage and for four years were volunteers at the George Washington Carver Memorial in Diamond where they were involved in plays performed for regional school children, portraying the life of Carver.  He was a greeter at the Lamar, Mo., Wal-Mart store in retirement. Robert was an active member in the Newtonia Battlefields Protection Association. He became involved with the Joplin Service Club for the Blind after being diagnosed with severe macular degeneration. He did not let his lack of sight slow him down, though. He was a delegate to the state convention for the Missouri Council for the Blind and attended summer camp (with Nancy as his sighted guide) with his friends from the Service Club in Joplin for many years at Cobblestone Lodge on the Meramec River.

Robert lived his faith every day in that he accepted completely without judgment the people that came into his life. He taught through his actions that we all are the same; we just happen to be on different paths having different experiences striving toward different goals. Robert saw the face of God in everyone.

Robert was born May 3, 1922, in Copperas Cove, Texas to Pearl Randall Harwell and Joseph Gordon Harwell. He graduated from Abilene High School, Abilene, Texas with the class of 1940. He served in the Army Air Corps during World War II. He graduated from McMurry University in Abilene, Texas in 1949 and received his Masters Degree from McMurry in 1955. He did graduate work in Biology at the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1958. He taught biology and directed the choir at Breckenridge High School in Breckenridge, Texas; he taught biology at both Abilene High School and at Cooper High School in Abilene, Texas. He was the sponsor for the Future Physicians Club at Cooper. The last 10 years of his career he taught at Jasper High School in Jasper, Mo., where he taught English and Creative Writing. He was the National Honor Society sponsor in Jasper. He retired in 1989.

He is survived by his wife, Nancy Harris Harwell.  For 65 years, they shared a full and wonderful life. He is also survived by his daughter, Susan and husband, Gary Moeller, of Frederick, Md.; his son, Bruce and wife, Angie, of Carthage and his son, Bob and wife, Debbie, of Blue Springs, Mo. He is survived by his granddaughter, Ivy and her husband, MAJ Joe LaTendresse, of Watertown, N.Y.; his grandson, Tyler Harwell, of Carthage; his grandson, Grant Harwell, of Savannah, Ga.; his grandson, Mason Harwell, of Blue Springs; his granddaughter, Susan and her husband, Robert Koritz, of Chesterfield, Mo. He is also survived by three beautiful great-grandchildren, Charlotte Ann and Cole Alexnder LaTendresse, of Watertown and Levi Scott Koritz, of Chesterfield. He was preceded in death by both his parents; and his brothers, Joe and Mack.

Honorary pallbearers are Tom Higdon and Donnie Mitchell, of Newtonia, Mo.; Jerry Sample and Darrell Waggoner, of Jasper, Mo.; Keith Garber, of Sarcoxie, Mo.; Harve Scholl, of Oxford, Miss.; Gary Moeller, of Frederick, Md.; Max Everett, of Joplin, Mo.; Frank Lane, Dale Hopp, Wayne Ytell, Bill Haughawout and Bud Rogers, of Carthage.

Roberts family and friends would particularly like to thank Sherry Poff, Heidi Todd, Misty Newby, Rick Warden, Emily Brackeen and the others of Visiting Angels for their many hours giving loving, compassionate, attentive care and friendship to Robert and to Nancy. Thanks goes also to Avalon and Compassus Hospices for the care given to Robert by their wonderful staff and to the compassionate caring staff at the Missouri Veterans Home.

Robert will be greatly missed by family, friends and former students.

A funeral service including Holy Communion will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 15, at Grace Episcopal Church, 820 Howard Street, Carthage, MO 64836. The Reverend Steven Wilson and the Reverend Ted Estes will officiate.  Inurnment will be in the Grace Episcopal Church Columbarium next to the church.

Memorial gifts are suggested to the Joplin Service Club of the Blind, 311 S. Shifferdecker, Joplin, MO 64801 or to Grace Episcopal Church, 820 Howard St. P.O. Box 596, Carthage, MO 64836.

Online condolences may be expressed through

Arrangements are under the direction and personal care of Knell Mortuary, Carthage.

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