February 3, 2023

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Donald Lee Harness. Don went peacefully on the evening of Sunday, November 15th 2015, surrounded by family. Don was sixty-one years old. 

Don was born on January 8th, 1954 the fourth of Donnis Lee and Jesse Harness’ five children. His parents welcomed the arrival of a fourth boy and his mother named him after herself. As a child Don and his family lived in Scott City and south of Holcomb before settling in Garden City, Kansas. Don grew up in a house full of siblings including his three older brothers, Greg, Gordon, and Evan along with one younger sister, Lisa. His parents and two siblings, Greg and Lisa preceded Don in death. As a child Don enjoyed drawing and tinkering which sparked an early passion for classic cars and a love of craftsmanship and design, which would lead to his eventual career choice.

After graduating from Garden City High School in 1972, Don moved to Wichita Kansas to study Psychology and Journalism at WSU. Don worked at a bike shop to support himself while in school. In 1976, he and his good friend Barry Simpson decided to embark on a 4,200 mile cross-country bicycle journey to celebrate the bicentennial of the United States, a journey that took nearly three months.

Encouraged by his older brother Greg to take up jewelry making, Don continued his education in Paris, Texas where he perfected his goldsmith skills. Don and Greg briefly set up shop in their mother Donnis’ basement making jewelry. Don would continued to practice his craft for 25 years at Regan Jewelers in Garden City, KS. Many of Don’s friends and family proudly wear his original creations. 

In 1979 Don began dating Nancy Jo Keller, the woman whom he would marry in 1981 and with whom he would have three children, Joe Landon, Hallie Marie, and Lauren Rene Harness. 

Don and Nancy enjoyed the company of close friends, many of these connections were made through High Plains Public Radio, the station that was the soundtrack to Don and the family’s daily life. Don and Nancy, sharing a passion for travel, took the kids on numerous family vacations including Alaska and Mexico, often visiting friends and family along the way. 

Don took delight in being a father and shared his creativity and silliness with his children as well as his 9 nieces, 8 nephews, and great nephews and nieces. Using his craftsmanship and technical ability, Don worked with his son Landon to restore a 1952 Chevy truck and also built large tree houses at each of the family homes.

Upon early retirement due to multiple sclerosis in 2003, Don directed his energy and passion to the preservation of historic buildings in the community by establishing the Finney County Preservation Alliance. Don’s efforts helped save Sabine Hall and the Ben Grimsley Arches. Most recently, Don’s attention was directed to the preservation of the Windsor Hotel. Thanks to the involvement of the community, the recent Cupola project raised over $40,000. The cupola project will be completed this spring.

Don will be missed by many. A memorial service will be held at the High Plains Public Radio Station at 210 N. 7th Street on Saturday, November 28th beginning at 2:00pm.

Memorials are suggested to High Plains Public Radio or the Finney County Preservation Alliance in care of Garnand Funeral Home at 412 N. 7th Street, Garden City, Kansas.