Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Ophir LeRoy Haring (1878-1943)

   Once in a while a certain city, town or village is discovered that has an oddly named individual listed amongst its roster of past mayors. The city of Three Rivers, Michigan is a special case, as it has had the good fortune to have two men serve as mayor (twenty years apart) with truly unusual names. The first of these men was Cadalzo Dockstader (profiled yesterday) who held the job from 1897-1899. Following in his stead was Mr. Ophir LeRoy Haring, today's "honoree", as it were. This man with the intriguing first name was a lifelong Michigan resident and is presumed to have inherited the name "Ophir" from the like-named region in the Bible, an area known for gold, mineral wealth and other precious resources.
   Ophir L. Haring was born in a log cabin on February 15, 1878 in the township of North Shade in Gratiot County, Michigan, the last of five children born to Hiram (1844-1905)  and Susan Foltz Haring (1843-1925). He spent a good majority of his adolescence engaged in farm work and attended schools local to the village of Hubbardston. After the completion of his education, he went to serve as a school teacher in the village of Beebe, Michigan and was employed here for only a few months. He left this employ and later went on to a short career as a general merchandiser in the store of William D. Iseman. Haring married in Ithaca, Michigan in November 1904 to Else Harriett Hill (1875-1932) with whom he would have two daughters, Madelon Elaine (1914-1992) and Donna Jean (1918-1976). Ophir and Elsie are also recorded as adopting a third child, Doris Eileen Van Aken (1914-1992) in 1915.
  Two years following his marriage Haring decided upon a career as an undertaker, enrolling at the Williams School of Embalming in Chicago. After completing the curriculum he worked as an undertaker and embalmer in Cassopolis, Michigan and Elkhart, Indiana before relocating to the Three Rivers area. Once settled, Haring formed another undertaking business with Frederick W. Balch, a prominent local furniture dealer. This partnership lasted for over a decade, and Haring himself is noted as opening the first funeral parlor in Three Rivers in 1919.
   Ophir L. Haring's activities weren't limited to just operating a funeral home. A member of a number of local fraternal organizations (including the Salathiel Chapter No. 23 of the Royal Arch Masons) Haring also made his name known politically, becoming a member of the Three Rivers city commission in 1921. Two years later he was elected as Mayor of Three Rivers, and after serving a term of one year returned to his earlier career as a funeral director and embalmer. In his later years, Haring held a seat on the St. Joseph County Welfare Commission and is recorded as resigning from this board for unknown reasons. He died on December 29, 1943 at age 65 and was later interred at the Riverside Cemetery in Three Rivers. Haring's wife Elsie predeceased him eleven years previously and was interred in the same cemetery as her husband. 
  The rare portrait of Ophir LeRoy Haring shown above was featured on a 1932 poster featuring all of the past Three Rivers mayors who had served from 1908-1932. The original poster is located in the collection of the Three Rivers Library archive and can be seen at the Library's Flickr page at the following link

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