Pete's April 1997 Article.


"The Woods have grown silent!" by Pete Bennett

The date was February 22, 1997, the place the Royal Inn in Ridgway, PA. The occasion, the retirement of a friend and neighbor. After 31 years of service he was surrendering to time and calling it quits. Quits, not as in submission, but rather quits as in relaxation on sunny beaches, fly fishing and spending many hours with grandchildren. Over 200 guests and friends had assembled to wish him and his lovely wife Carole best wishes in this, their new adventure in life. Who am I speaking of here?  It's Harold D. Harshbarger, WCO of the Pennsylvania Game Commissions Eastern District, #3-24-2 of Elk County who was retiring his gun and badge for the less hectic life of husband, father and grandfather. He has always been our number one here in Elk County and undoubtedly is the most respected Wildlife Conservation Officer in Pennsylvania. Though the Game Commission says they will replace him, they will find it a very difficult task. Most people in the area know him as the very level headed WCO he is, but many may not know of these, his many accomplishments and career highlights. Harold spent 3 years in the U. S. Marine Corps and began his career with the Game Commission in 1962 as a Deputy Game Protector in Mifflin County. On March 28, 1965 he became a member of the 12th (and best) Class of the Ross Leffler School of Conservation in Brockway. After 11 months of training, he graduated on February 19, 1966 and was assigned to his district here in Elk County where he has served until December 27, 1996, his official day of retirement.

Harold married Carole J. Bossinger of McVeytown on May 24, 1958 and they are the proud parents of three children: Bradley Harshbarger, Juli Ann Schlimm and Renee Dawn Sullivan, all of Kersey. The grandchildren I spoke of earlier are: 12year old Wesley, 4 year old Rocco and 8 month old Nicole Harshbarger, 6 year old Whitney and 5 year old Joshua Schlimm. While Harold has dedicated his life to the conservation of wildlife, Carole has been Fox Township Secretary for the last 26 years and has been Secretary/Treasurer for the Economic Development Corp. in Ridgway and for the Nursing Home in St. Marys.

In 1967 Harold earned the Triple Trophy Award for harvesting a turkey, bear and deer all in one hunting season. He was also the recipient of the highly prestigious Shikar-Safari Officer of the Year Award in 1985. After a very delicious meal many heart warming stories of events that had occurred over the years were recalled buy his fellow workers and friends attending the party. Many spoke of the respectability that Harold brought to the position and wondered upon where the very future of the Game Commission itself is headed in light of their recent admission of the failing deer herd in the area. The way I viewed the scene at the party, there were probably more Commission representatives present there then there are deer per square mile in the local woods. I hope they took notes on what everyone agreed he done so well. Harold leaves at a time when his caliber of officer is still very needed, here and throughout Pennsylvania, a sentiment echoed in part, in a letter of appreciation read from Governor Tom Ridge. Many awards and gifts were also presented to him and to Carole.

Harold and Carole plan on taking a few ocean cruises and going on a western horse back fishing trips. 

At the close of the evening, all his many friends assembled there, rose in a standing ovation to wish him a long, happy and well deserved retirement. I couldn't help but think that with the deer gone and the #1 WCO now retired, the woods of Elk County have suddenly grown silent. HAPPY RETIREMENT HAROLD! You have earned it.

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