Orvid Harju Obituary

Orvid Harju was born on April 21, 1924 in Wakefield, Michigan. He graduated from high school in 1942 and enlisted in the Marine Corps. He was trained to be a communications specialist and served in Hawaii and the Pacific. He was wounded on Iwo Jima and awarded the Purple Heart.

After the war, he attended Lake Gogebic Community College and later graduated from Eastern Michigan University with a teaching degree. He later attained a Master’s Degree from the University of Michigan. He taught in Carsonville, North Addams, and Holly before moving to St. Joseph in 1958, where he taught Industrial Arts and Drivers Ed until 1986. He earned a reputation as a patient, caring, and engaging teacher. He was proud to have had a positive effect on so many students at St. Joe High School; on many occasions, former students professed Orvid’s positive influence on their lives.

In 1955, he met the love of his life, Carol Mae Clark while teaching in Holly. They were married for over 40 years. Carol and Orvid were true partners in life. When Carol developed Multiple Sclerosis, Orvid took care of her at home well into his 70’s.

Orvid was relentless in his priorities. After retiring, Orvid continued to serve others and kept busy with volunteer work at many organizations in St. Joseph, including Lakeland Hospital, Habitat for Humanity, and the Multiple Sclerosis Society. He loved to travel, visiting his extended family across the U.S. with trips abroad to Finland and Mexico. He especially enjoyed going to his birthplace in Wakeland, in the upper peninsula of Michigan. His morning ritual was completing the daily crossword puzzle in the Detroit Free Press. His quirky humor and quick wit will be missed.

Orvid was an avid Detroit Tiger and Michigan Wolverine Fan. In 2014, he was honored as the Veteran of the Game for the Michigan / Penn State football game, where he was cheered by over 110,000 fans as he walked across the field.

Orvid was predeceased by his wife Carol and is survived by two sons John (Debbie), Tom (Patti), and five grandchildren: Chad (Fernanda), Emily, Paul (Kathryn), Allison, and Melanie.

Memorial services will be held at a later date. Those wishing to sign the memory book online may do so at www.starks-menchinger.com. 

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