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Tom Harden, fixture at Little Brown Jug, dies

February 02, 2016

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If you were lucky enough to go to the winner's circle at the Delaware County Fair, you probably exchanged a friendly hello with Tom E. Harden. Mr. Harden, a former Morrow County sheriff and commissioner, was a sort of traffic cop at the gate which allows folks access to the track to cross to the winner's circle. He passed away on Sunday evening, Jan. 31, at the Morrow County Hospital in Mt. Gilead following a brief illness. He was 74.

On April 25, 1941, Mr. Harden was born in Marion County, Ohio, the oldest of three sons of the late Clarence C. Harden and Bertha (George) Harden Huneke. He was raised in Mount Gilead, where he graduated from Mount Gilead High School in the class of 1959, and served as class president.

Shortly following high school, Mr. Harden followed his childhood dream of becoming a deputy sheriff with the Morrow County Sheriff's Department. He served as a deputy for more than 20 years, until 1972 when he was proudly elected as sheriff of Morrow County. He had a huge heart and love for the people of the Morrow County, doing everything in his power to protect them. He also served as a member of the Buckeye Sheriff's Association and National Sheriff's Association.

Mr. Harden's dedication to the Morrow County community continued as he served as a Morrow County Commissioner for two terms, retiring this past December of 2015. In total, he was a public servant of the community for over 48 years. Further, he served on the board of numerous organizations over the years, some of which being: Mount Gilead Masonic Lodge #206, United Way of Morrow County, Morrow County Farm Bureau, and Seniors on Center. He also was a staunch Republican and member of the Morrow County Republican Party, and served on the central committee for many years as the representative from Franklin Township.

Mr. Harden is survived by his wife, Pat Harden; two daughters: Candace (Mike) Irwin and Samantha (Ken) Kanniard; four grandchildren, Ethan and Cassady Irwin, and Mackenna and Parker Kanniard; two brothers, Larry (Brenda) Harden and Earl (Alice) Harden; numerous nieces and nephews; and his beloved canine companions: Jackson and Crystal.

His family will greet Mr. Harden's many friends from 3-7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 3, at the Gilead Friends Church, 3613 Twp. Rd. 115, Mount Gilead, with Masonic services following at the end of the visitation. Services honoring his life and dedicated service will also be observed there at 11 a.m. on Thursday, with Rev. Deb Bowsher officiating. Burial will follow in Iberia Cemetery.

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