Benny Leonard Harden
September 5, 1933 - May 13, 2020
On May 13, our Rock, husband, father, brother, grandfather, great grandfather and friend took his final road trip to Heaven. Benny Leonard was born in Tecumseh, Oklahoma, the third of seven children to Hilton and Stella Harden. They moved from the Dust Bowl to California in 1941, after losing everything in the Great Depression. He attended Fairview Elementary, Roosevelt Junior High, and was graduated from Modesto High in 1950.
Daddy married Jane Durossette, his high school sweetheart and love of his life, September 26, 1952. They were happily married for 67 years and raised four kids in the Ceres/Hughson area.
One of the greatest passions of Daddy’s life was athletics. He played basketball for his church, fast pitch softball with his buddies, and was a boxing “Golden Glove” recipient – locally and during his service in the Army. His true passion, however, was coaching and supporting his children’s and grandchildren’s teams. You could always spot him on the sidelines of our sporting events and if not actually coaching, he was behind the dugout wearing his “biggest fan” grin or yelling at the umpires. This passion turned into 35 years of coaching Ceres Youth Baseball. He served on the Budget Oversight Committee and the Parks and Recreation Board for the City of Ceres. In addition, he held an elected position on the Ceres Unified School District Board for nine years.
Along with the building/remodeling of all of our homes, Dad found the time to volunteer his talents for many school and community projects, including building backstops and hanging the school sign at Sam Vaughn School, building the concession stand, equipment shed and refurbishing the backstops at Costa Fields, and building the gazebo at Ceres High. He also built many backdrops, props, and stages for both Mae Hensley and Ceres High dance programs. The Sam Vaughn principal ordained daddy “Honorary Grandpa,” an honor he wore proudly.
Daddy was a loyal friend, fair boss, meticulous contractor, thorough building inspector, and veteran. He passed on his awesome rhythm and his love of dance to all of his children and grandchildren. He loved long drives and traveling the states. Later, he rode his scooter all around town, having conversations and making new friends. He loved people and they him. He never met a stranger nor turned his back on a friend. Anyone who knew him knew that he would fight all-comers for his family!
Daddy was preceded in death by his parents, Hilton and Stella Harden, brothers Bobby, Eddie, Pete Harden and sister, Darlene Bradshaw. He is survived by his wife, Jane; children Patti Cowell (Ed), Rick (Angela), Becky Adrian (Tom) and Bryan (Tina); grandchildren Derek, Kristy, Debin, Amberly, Lacey, Haylee, Chelsea, Hunter, Logan, McKenzy, Heath, and Chase; 13 great-grandchildren; brothers Jim (Mary) and Don (Elaine); numerous nieces and nephews; and best friend of 55 years, Don Bell.
–Ceres (Calif.) Courier
Wednesday, June 3, 2020