John William Harding
John William Harding
  • November 30, 1916 - September 29, 2017
  • Jackson, Mississippi

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John W. (“Jack”) Harding, 100 years old, died at his home September 29. A lifelong resident of Jackson, he grew up on Fortification St. when it was unpaved and streetcars rumbled along State St. The only child of the late J.W. Harding, Sr., and Eloise Watkins Harding, he attended Jackson Public Schools and graduated from Gulf Coast Military Academy. He earned degrees simultaneously in engineering and pharmacy at Mississippi State University. Jack married Clara Frances Dent in April 1941, beginning an over 76- year romance. Entering the U.S. Army as a first lieutenant, he served in Washington, D.C., before being assigned to Springfield Armory. Under John C. Garand, Jack developed modifications for the rear sights of the M-1 rifle. After developing these modifications, he was sent to all the ordinance offices in the ETO to train in their installation. He requested transfer to the deserts of North Africa after being stranded in the trenches of Italy during an especially rainy time. In Africa he served with British commander Vladimir Popsky’s guerilla army.

After being honorably discharged with the rank of major, Jack worked at his father’s Harding Drug Company and began a machine shop in his garage, which grew into Harding Machine Works, a business he operated for over 40 years. He was a member of the M Club at MSU for track and field, the Quiet Birdmen, the Jackson Yacht Club, and First Baptist Church of Jackson.

Both before and after retiring, he enjoyed flying his antique Taylorcraft, racing sailboats, building clocks, fishing for white perch, shrimping from his sailboat and taking trips to Gulf Shores, Al., with Clara Frances.

Jack and Clara Frances had 4 children, 2 of whom predeceased him: Tommy Harding and Randy Harding. He is survived by his wife Clara Frances, his son Richard Harding (Lee), his daughter Ann Harding Drane (Michael), his daughter-in-law Lu Hill Harding, 6 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren.

Visitation will be Tuesday, October 3 from 9-11 a.m. at Lakewood Memorial Park followed by a graveside ceremony.

The family extends special thanks to his caregivers Sarah White, Pam Griffith, Trudy Bryant, and Kenyatta Moffet.