David Harsh ’61

I was born and raised in Milwaukee. My father was a foreman in a steel casting company for most of his life. My mother was a homemaker. During the World War II era, he was exempt from the military because of a specialized skill of manufacturing tank lugs at the foundry. My parents were the first in the family to be high school graduates.

David Harsh
David Harsh ’61

Since none of us knew much about seeking colleges, we turned to our pastor, Stan Strosahl ’42, who just happened to be a Cornell grad. My choice of college was obviously influenced by that, something that turned out to be wise advice.

I was active in a Methodist youth group and participated in various musical groups, including choirs and as a bassist in both symphony orchestras and dance bands. This led to a music scholarship on bass at Cornell. In the end, the music department was unhappy about the scholarship. Apparently, when they saw all the music involvement, they assumed I would be majoring in music, even though I had clearly indicated my desire for a different major. The scholarship was only for music majors and was not renewed my sophomore year. But I did play bass all four years in the Cornell orchestra as well as in the Cedar Rapids Symphony, and sang and toured with the college choir.

Further education included master of divinity and doctor of ministry degrees from Garrett Theological Seminary. An additional year of postgrad work was taken at Northwestern University. I served the United Methodist Church as pastor for 40 years. Some of those years included the position as district superintendent. In retirement, I continue to be actively involved, especially in the area of international mission outreach. This involvement has taken me to some 82 different countries thus far. For this, Cornell honored me in 2006 with the Leadership and Service Award.

The small community at Cornell was helpful. Professors were readily available to us as students. I regularly found myself and other students invited informally into their homes. Besides the obvious academic impact on my life, I met Ann Archer Harsh ’61, which also significantly changed my life. We graduated from Cornell together in the morning and in the afternoon we were married in Allee Chapel.