Walter Maxey Harper

Apr. 30, 1939 - Nov. 19, 2019


Max Harper, 80, passed away peacefully at his home in Huntington, Oregon on Tuesday November 19th, surrounded by loved ones. He had lived with terminal cancer for over a year, but it was his big-loving heart that took him. This will not surprise anyone who was a recipient of Max’s gruff and tender affections.

Max was born April 30, 1939 in Ashton, Idaho to Walter and Charlotte Harper. Joining his two sisters, Mardelle and Phylis.

He attended grade school in Nampa, ID and enjoyed reminding us all that his first-grade teacher liked him so much, she held him back another year just so she could spend time with him. He then moved to Huntington, OR to live with his oldest sister, Phylis. Max graduated high school in 1958. After working a grueling summer as a gandy-dancer with the railroad, he promptly joined the Marines. He would serve honorably in the active Marines and Reserve for almost 30 years, including two tours in Vietnam.

While in high school, Max fell for the “pretty Wiley girl” who lived across the street. He married his hazel-eyed beauty, Karen Lynne Wiley, on April 8, 1961. Their growing family spent the next 20-years moving around the United States. Their son, Brent was born at Camp Pendleton, CA; Shelly in Bremerton, WA, and Lynnette at MT Home AFB, ID. After life as a military family, they returned to Huntington, where Max and Karen spent the rest of their 58 years of marriage.

Max’s greatest joy was his family and friends. He was extraordinarily loyal and enjoyed visiting with all of his friends at The Plaza Inn, Red Apple, Ash Grove Cement and all his dear coffee and mechanic buddies in Huntington.

His sense of humour was incredible. Max was able to make even the most absurd and ridiculous situation funny. Of all his legacies, his laughter and love for his family are the strengths that make his death bearable.

He was also the kind of man that would watch football games when teams played that he didn’t care about, because he knew you cared about them and he wanted to have something to talk to you about.

Max was literally all of his kids’ biggest fan. He would call to ask about our lives, our friends, our work and he was genuinely interested. He would remember bits of a past conversation that you forgot, and when he didn’t hear you correctly, he would just fill in the blanks with his wild imagination. So, when that topic came up in a future conversation you had to say, “Grampa! No, that wasn’t what happened!” And he would roar with laughter and say, “But it’s funnier this way.” He was a born storyteller and loved getting people wound up.

And of course, we would be amiss if we didn’t mention how proud Max was of passing on these ridiculous Harper ears. He would delightfully inspect each child, grandchild and great-grandchild for that Harper gene. You will all be relieved to know that all of Max’s descendants are happily sporting the “Harper ears.”

He left us way too soon and the Poppa Max-shaped-hole in our universe can never be filled. We will miss your bawdy laugh, your iron-will and ornery temper, your inability to whisper, your goofy delight at gag-gifts, your ability to make friends any place that you went, and most of all-we will miss being loved by you.

Max is survived by his wife Karen; two children, Shelly (Dan) Dennis, Harper, OR and Lynnette Harper, Dubai; four grandchildren, Mary (Lance Brown) Harper, Spokane, WA, Sarah (Bryan Dines) Harper, Katy (Nate) Richards, Boise, and Andrew Harper, McMurdo Station, Antarctica. Three great-grandsons: Wyatt and Luke Richards and Cash Brown and one grand-dog Rogue Harper-Dines. Max is also survived by his beloved niece Pam (Jim) Howard and countless treasured friends.

Max was preceded in death by his son Brent Allen Harper; granddaughter Rebecca, parents Walter & Charlotte Harper and sisters Mardelle and Phyllis, along with aunts, uncles, cousins, and dear friends.

Poppa- We know you are waiting on a bench outside of Heaven’s Gates for your hazel-eyed beauty, because you hated to go anywhere without Gramma Karen, but she takes a bit longer to get ready. So, you just hold Gramma’s purse, yell at BadDogReno for a while, and enjoy chatting up strangers. We will all be together soon enough.

Funeral Services will be held in the Spring of 2020. Because Max’s friends were strung far and wide, if you would like an e-mail letting you know when the services are planned, please contact us at

Condolences may be sent to the family at this e-mail, or to

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