Stan was a family man, retired pastor, US Navy veteran of the Vietnam War, musician, and craftsman.
Stan was born in Louisville, Kentucky to Bill and Becky (Ditto) Harding. He and his siblings Bonnie, Steve and Stuart were raised in Nashville, Tennessee where Stan eventually attended Vanderbilt University as a Psychology major and Navy ROTC midshipman.
Between his studies, Navy duties, and gigs as a saxophonist in the Louis Brown Orchestra, the premier Nashville swing band in the 1960s, Stan found time to meet and woo Linda Jones. The couple were married on January 20, 1968, only two months before Stan was deployed to Vietnam. Following his Vietnam tour of duty he was stationed in Yokosuka, Japan where his son Stephen and daughter Rebecca were born. He served a final tour in Hawaii.
After ten years of service to his country, Stan heard God calling him to church work. He attended the Lutheran Bible Institute in Seattle and then Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois where he earned a masters degree in theology. During that time his son Benjamin was born. In 1982, Stan enrolled at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. Stan was ordained as a pastor of the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod, and installed as pastor of Concordia Lutheran Church in Waterloo, Iowa in 1986. He served that congregation for five years until he accepted a new call to Immanuel Lutheran Church in Elmhurst, Illinois.
Throughout his career as pastor, Stan was beloved by the people he served. He was affectionately known as “the hugging pastor” for his habit of greeting parishioners as they left worship every week with a hug for anyone who wanted one. He was a teacher, counselor, confessor, comforter and servant. The love his parishioners felt for him was a response to the love of Christ that shone on them through “Pastor Stan”. Stan retired from full-time ministry in 2010, but continued to serve as a vacancy pastor and bible study teacher. Stan served his community as Chaplain for the City of Elmhurst Veterans Commission.
Stan was a music lover. He played the saxophone, sang, wrote hymns, and enjoyed attending Elmhurst College Jazz Band concerts. He was a hobbyist and craftsman and enjoyed model railroading and woodworking. He was undefeated at Boggle. For vacation, Stan needed only his family, a quiet, wooded campsite for his pop-up camper, and a stack of books.
More than anything, Stan loved his wife, his family, the people he served, and his Savior. He knew that his Redeemer lives, and Stan is now seeing God with his own eyes.
Stanley Harding was preceded in death by his parents, William and Margaret Rebecca “Becky” Harding. His legacy lives on through the family he led, including his wife of 54 years Linda, his children Steve (Tracy), Becky (Justin) and Ben (Cori), five grandchildren Kelsey (Nick), Ethan, Elly, Nathan and Catherine, and a great-granddaughter Harper. He is also survived by his siblings Bonnie, Steve and Stuart, as well as numerous nieces and nephews and a loving extended family by marriage.
Visitation will be held on Wednesday, September 7, 2022 from 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Pedersen Ryberg Funeral Home, 435 N York St., Elmhurst, IL 60126. There will be a funeral service on Thursday, September 8, 2022 at 11:00 a.m. at Immanuel Lutheran Church, 142 E 3rd St., Elmhurst, with viewing the hour preceding. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Immanuel Lutheran Church, Elmhurst, Illinois and Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri.
Clergy are invited to attend. The family welcomes them to process as a group.