Lawrence Wayne Harju
On Monday, January 30th, 2023, Lawrence “Larry” Wayne Harju was guided by angels to enter his eternal resting place in heaven at the age of 79. Larry was born at Great Lakes Naval Station near Chicago, Illinois on November 25th, 1943 to Reino Harju and Ruth Nelson.
In his youth, he was a Tenant Farmer in Shabbona, Illinois where he also graduated from Shabbona High School in 1961. He enlisted into the U.S. Army in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where he served as a Fixed Wing Aviation Mechanic from the ranks of Private to Sergeant as an enlisted Non-Commissioned Officer honorably. After only 1 year and 8 months his superiors noticed his Commissioned Officer potential, aptitude, and drive so they recommended he go to Engineer Officer Candidate School which he gladly applied to. During his Aviation Officer career, he graduated from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in 1974 with a B.S. in Aviation Management. He flew missions, tested, taught, and mobilized the U.S. Army Mohawk aircraft used for battlefield surveillance. His military career evolved into a prominent change of military occupational specialty to a Military Intelligence Officer. He proudly served as an Officer of the U.S. Army for 22 years and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel. He received many awards to include the Bronze Star with over 5 years of foreign service in South Korea and Vietnam during his illustrious career while serving on active duty.
During one of his deployments to South Korea, he fell in love with a beautiful woman named Song who became his wife for 42 years before his passing. The newly married couple gave birth to Lee Harju in 1982 followed by Lynn Harju in 1988. Upon his retirement from the U.S. Army, he dedicated his career to protecting our American freedoms in the fields of radar, intelligence, aviation, and military strategy while employed by multiple private organizations that were intertwined with all the U.S. Armed Forces.
Although his career accolades were spectacular, he also excelled as a husband, father, grandfather, Coach, philanthropist, Spiritual Practitioner, and humanitarian. He was a devout Christian and was heavily involved in the day-to-day activities and long-term missions of multiple churches. He was well known for his charismatic demeanor, selfless actions, quick-thinking, contagious smile, warmhearted spirit, and full transparency. He prided himself on being a straight shooter with his honesty and weapons. He always took time to listen when people talked especially when it was about something that he did not have intimate knowledge of. He had a passion for teaching and was a perpetual student. He cherished spending time with his wife, children, and grandchildren. Some of his hobbies were swimming, dancing, basketball, music, cruising cars, heavy machinery, listening to others, conversating with complete strangers (especially Veterans), studying the Bible, contributing to a project, weaponry, providing for the family, the Republican Party, and more.
He will be remembered as a hero to his family, country, faith, and community.
He is survived by Song (wife), Lee (son), Lynn (daughter), Joey (son-in-law), Stacey (daughter-in-law), Joseph/Jacob/Jaylene/Jordan (grandchildren), David Harju (brother) and family in Rogers, Arkansas, Alan Harju (brother) and family in Tulsa, Oklahoma and Rick Maurer (brother) and family in Genoa, Illinois.
A Celebration of Life Ceremony honoring Larry will be held at Sierra Vista Bethel Church located at 1130 North Taylor Dr., Sierra Vista, AZ 85635 at 9:00 am on Friday, February 17th, 2023. Please try to arrive 15 minutes early. There will then be a procession leaving the Celebration of Life ceremony at 10 am where we will follow the local Sheriff to Buffalo Soldier Gate of Fort Huachuca off of East Fry Blvd to his burial. Make sure to be with the procession if attending the burial as the streets will be blockaded by the local Sheriff and the procession will need to be guided by the Fort Huachuca Military Police to the Post Cemetery. We will then have a burial service of his urn at Fort Huachuca’s Post Cemetery at 11 am. Following the burial, we will have a funeral reception lunch that everybody is welcome to attend back at Sierra Vista Bethel Church from 1 – 3 pm.
If you have any pictures, memories, or comments you’d like to share, please forward them to [email protected]