Delmar Events
Thursday, September 30th. 1999
Remembering Ron Harder, a proud DHS grad
By Tommy Young
Forty years ago, Ron Harder was a senior at Delmar High School, a scholar-athlete and one of the most popular young men in his class. Last week while helping to set up a shelter at Washington High School as hurricane Floyd approached, he suffered a fatal heart attack.
He had just begun his third year as principal of this Somerset County school and had already made a tremendous impression on the community. Remarks by the faculty, students and citizens of Princess Anne told the whole story of their feelings for this man and for what he had done for Washington High in his short time there.
The last time I had a chance to talk with Ronnie was three years ago when the Wildcats played their last game with Washington High, and although it was his first year there, he seemed very excited about his new position there. We also did a lot of reminiscing about his days at Delmar High, and he was looking forward to his upcoming class reunion.
I remember Ron as that easy -going, quiet gentleman who took his studies as seriously as he did being an outstanding athlete.
He was a second team All-State tackle in 1959, and the only reason he was not first team was the fact Delmar already had two first team All-Staters in Wayne Elliott and Don James, and there was no way a down-state school would be allowed three first team All-Staters, although he was very deserving.
He was catcher for Coach Clarke Cugler's baseball teams in 1959 and 1960 and was a key factor in the Wildcats having two outstanding seasons. Naturally, Clarke was very upset when he heard of Ron's death and was one of the first people to call me with the sad news.
However, it was his wrestling career at Delmar High that he is most remembered for by the local wrestling fans of that era. And why not, as he was undefeated in regular season matches during his junior and senior years.
As a junior, his only defeat came in the finals of the state championship as he dropped a 3-2 decision and wound up in second place in the heavyweight division.
His senior year, he was even better as he pinned all of his opponents. When the state championships came up, the man who had defeated him in the previous year dropped down to the 180-pound class so he would not have to wrestle Ronnie.
Now the bad news: After drawing a bye and winning his first match, he could not wrestle Saturday afternoon in the finals as he had to go over to Annapolis to take his exams for the U.S. Naval Academy.
The heavyweight championship was won by a wrestler from St. Andrews whom Ronnie had pinned in the second period of their regular season match.
A tough way to end your high school year, but he went on to the Naval Academy and, after graduation, served 20 years, retiring as a captain.
He then began another career as a teacher, coach and administrator, serving at Virginia Beach, St. Michaels, Md., and finally at Washington High.
Ronnie and wife actually moved back to the Eastern Shore to be near his mother, who still lives in Delmar after his father died several years ago. His death was everyone's loss.