On April 23, 2023, at the age of 86, Harry passed from a life well lived to enter his eternal heavenly home. He was born on July 3, 1936, in the Town of Radway, in the province of Alberta. He was the first child of four.
Harry’s way was very simple. He was a people person, and he let you know, you mattered. This is whether you came to see him at his work or play. Harry learned this at a young age.
In 1949, at the age of 13, over a two-year period, Harry’s Father took ill, and Harry became the “Man” of the family, taking on the head household chores of a Mink Farm and Boat Rental business at their homestead farm on the shores of Amisk Lake, AB. At the age of 16, Harry ventured off to work for his uncle, Jack Howard. Harry would continue his career in construction, eventually working his way to District Superintendent, building roads to oilfield leases, for Hansen Construction. His work area would encompass Whitecourt North to the High Level/Zama Lake areas. While in High Level, Harry helped build the rodeo grounds, and the High Level Airport Road. Harry proved to be a very hard worker, and never asked a person to accomplish a task he would, or could not, do himself.
As Harry continued his career, and further established himself, Harry and Leona Smith married in 1957, starting a new chapter of their life, a family.
In 1970, Harry went into business with Albert Hansen, and with the help of his wife, Leona, and his two daughters, owned and operated the Spedden Hotel over a three-year period. In 1973, Harry, with the support of his family, moved to the Rycroft Hotel, that he owned, operated, and managed for a total of 32 years. Over the years, with his wife, Leona, and daughters, all worked within the family business, supporting Harry’s dream of being the successful hotel owner.
That first year in Rycroft, Harry and Leona recognized their love of community, and initiated the 32-year tradition of offering all community members, patrons, non-patrons, families, and friends a Christmas Buffet, within the Rycroft Bar and Rycroft Hotel Café. Carrying on this tradition without Leona, Harry always ensured his community had a meal for Christmas. If you forgot to attend, you may expect a phone call from Harry, where he noticed you were not there.
Ever the hard worker, having sold his hotel business at the age of 69, Harry and companion Edna Irwin, semi-retired and further pursued Harry’s love of farming, by working his 320-acre grain farm in the Savanna area. He continued this until he could no longer physically do the work, and needed to be near accessible amenities. He then sold his farm, purchased a home, and moved to Spirit River, Alberta.
Harry maintained a real sense of community. Whether this was work or play: commercial fishing, hunting with friends; preparing the Winter Bounty through meat cutting and making sausage for himself and others; river rafting on the Peace, participating in the Jetboat World River Races; snow machining on the trails, or visiting around a fire with family and friends. Harry was fun loving, had a wicked sense of humour, was always the optimist, no matter what came his way, even with his medical diagnoses at the end of his life. Harry lived a full life, on his terms, and will be sadly missed by his family and friends.
Harry is survived by his sister Adelma (Ron) McDowell, Boyle, AB; his daughters Evelyn (Stan) Bzowy, Rycroft, AB and Sheana (Anthony) Holleman, Falmouth, NS. his grandchildren – Megan (Nathan) Coffey; Cale (Karen) Stegmeier; Kiera (Scott) Riley, and great grandchildren – Ethan and Harrison Coffey, Kate and MacKenzie Stegmeier, and Coen Riley, along with many nieces, nephews, and their families.
Harry was predeceased by his father – Albert Hartley, mother – Bertha Hartley, brother – Ernest Hartley; sister and brother-in-law – Joan and Randy Witney; by his loving wife Leona Hartley, great grand-daughter Kaylan Coffey, and Edna Irwin of Quesnel, BC.
Harry chose cremation, and no visitation will take place.
A Celebration of Life for Harry will take place at 2:00 p.m. on July 15, 2023, at the Bear Creek Funeral Home: 11801-99 Avenue, Grande Prairie, AB. All who knew him are welcome to attend. Family, friends, and acquaintances knew Harry Hartley as a social, and hospitable man. In lieu of donations, please gather with your family and/or friends, and make a toast, in remembrance to Harry, and those good times.
Bear Creek Funeral Home will host the reception, which will follow the Celebration of Life. Interment will be by immediate family at a later date.
Arrangements have been entrusted to Bear Creek Funeral Home – (780) 830-7742 | bearcreekfuneral.com.