Jay Norris Harker

Jay Norris Harker passed away at Lawrence Memorial Hospital on January 20.

He filled 71 years with love and laughter, a beloved family man who will be remembered for his generosity, selflessness, work ethic, love for adventure and outdoors, and an ability to turn the mundane into a laugh and a memory.

He grew up in suburban Chicago, earned a bachelor’s degree in packaging from Michigan State in 1970 and worked most of the next five decades at the same plant in Topeka, retiring as an engineering manager for Delmonte Foods in 2016. Jay and Sue were married 48 years, raising their son Brad and daughter Katie.

Jay built a house on an island in Canada and a deck in Lawrence and completed a million projects in between, including a two-story wooden playset for his grandsons that he eyeballed off a picture. He loved to fish and hated to eat fish. He loved to host friends and hated talking about himself.

Jay is survived most immediately by Sue, their children, his sisters Kathy Harker and Laurie Harker, son-in-law Sam Mellinger and grandsons Samuel Norris and John Bradley.

A visitation will be held from 4 – 6 p.m. with a Celebration of Jay’s Life beginning at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, January 25, 2020 at Warren-McElwain Mortuary in Lawrence. A toast will follow at Conroy’s Pub, 3115 W. 6th Street in Lawrence.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations in Jay’s name be made to the Great Lakes Fisheries Commission Trust c/o Stephen Domeracki, Dir. Corp. Services; 2200 Commonwealth Blvd Suite 100, Ann Arbor, MI 48105; or LMH Health Foundation, 216 Maine St., Lawrence KS 66044 or may be sent in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary, 120 W. 13th Street, Lawrence, KS 66044.

18 Condolences

  1. Richard Salierno on January 21, 2020 at 8:54 am

    Thoughts and prayers for your Family during this time….

  2. Guy Ruwe on January 21, 2020 at 9:46 am

    So sorry to hear this news. Our prayers are with the family.

  3. Gary and Bev Doud on January 21, 2020 at 1:04 pm

    To Sue, Brad, Katie, Sam, Sammy and John: Gary and I are so sorry to hear this sad news. We knew Jay for many years going back to his high school days with Gary. We will always remember Jay as fun loving with a great laugh. We can picture him with his and our children climbing all over him. He was a favorite with our children. May your wonderful memories of him bring you the comfort and knowledge of his life well lived. He will be missed by many. Our hearts and prayers are with you, Gary and Bev Doud

  4. Steve Todd on January 21, 2020 at 2:33 pm

    Jay was one of a kind! Brilliant and loyal and tons of fun. He made every trip Dave and I made to Kansas memorable. The finest processing person we have ever met. Dave and I will miss him! Peace to his memory.

  5. Cindy Gress on January 21, 2020 at 4:17 pm

    Sue, Brad and Katie,
    I am so sorry to read about the loss of your husband and father. You’re in our thoughts and prayers. Rest on all the love he surrounded you with and the great memories! By knowing you Sue and Brad I know he was an awesome man.

  6. Matt Tait on January 21, 2020 at 6:54 pm

    So sorry to hear this news. Celebrate hard and hug the heck out of each other. We’re thinking of all of you & sending lots of love your way.
    — Matt, Allison & Kate

  7. Denise Snakard on January 21, 2020 at 6:55 pm

    Katie, Know that I am thinking of you, your mother and Brad. God bless your dad.

    Denise S.
    Doti sister…always.

  8. Bob Harker on January 21, 2020 at 8:00 pm

    Dear Sue, Brad and Katie,
    Very sorry to hear of Jays’ passing. I have fond memories of him, and know he was a good man. Peace and love to you and the rest of the family.

  9. Lucy & Dave Spaeth on January 22, 2020 at 10:49 am

    Dear Sue, Brad and Katie,
    We are so sorry to hear about Jay’s death. I have such wonderful memories of him, always so funny, kind and full of life! Please know you are all in our thoughts and prayers.
    Lucy (Harker), Dave, Ben and Claire Spaeth

  10. Jerry Connet on January 22, 2020 at 2:03 pm

    I am so sorry for your loss and I will never forget the lessons he taught me when I worked with him in Topeka, what a great man!!!

  11. Carol Wickersheim on January 22, 2020 at 9:01 pm

    Sue, Brad and Katie,
    We are so sorry for the loss of your beloved Jay, we and our children will treasure all of our memories over the years! Our visits together were special, and we’ll never forget all the fun times we had. Bet Jay still had his pinochle “cheat sheet”. He was a wondefcul man and a greaf friend! Love to all of you!
    Carol and Bill

  12. Pat Lindeman on January 22, 2020 at 10:43 pm

    I worked with Jay at Del Monte when he first started at the Lawrence plant until he transferred to Topeka. I was a packaging department coordinator. And continued to work with him through the years sharing machinery information between plants. Jay was a great guy and had a great sense of humor. I could always count on him to design and choose the right packaging design options. I always took time out to say hello to him when he came back to the Lawrence plant. Bless your family for sharing him with those who came to know him.

  13. Cheryl Witker Kocher on January 23, 2020 at 7:55 am

    So very very sorry hearing of Jay’s passing, Know that we care. ❤️

  14. John Herbert Harker on January 23, 2020 at 10:18 am

    Our condolences on Jay’s passing and still cherish the memories of our shared experiences at Granny’s Thanksgivings with the five brothers and Gus singing around the piano. A life well lived and best to all.

  15. Cindi Carter on January 24, 2020 at 8:53 am

    Dear Sue and family. I had the privilege of knowing Jay over the past few years. He was always so kind and always knew what he wanted! I will miss him greatly. Thoughts and prayers are with you.

  16. Allison Edwards, Zach Brower & Emily Edwards, John Dickson on January 25, 2020 at 10:19 am

    We love you all so much. Thinking of you thorough this impossibly hard time.

  17. Jay& Nancy Higbie on January 25, 2020 at 10:51 am

    Sue & Family
    So Sorry to hear of Jay’s passing! Worked with him at the Lawrence plant he was one of a kind always had a smile on his face! Always took the time to talk with everyone, What a great guy he was he will be so missed Prayers to the family ♥️ R.I.P Jay #taken way to soon Jay&Nancy Higbie

  18. Becky Mondi on January 29, 2020 at 10:15 pm

    So sorry to read this, Harker families. My heart is heavy for you. May God’s comfort hold you close.

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