The Honorable Judge David Harbour – 1939-2020

We lost a treasure Thursday, November 19th. David Harbour passed away in Scottsdale. He hasn’t left us; he’ll carry us through good times and difficult times with the memory of his irrepressible determination fronted with his disarming, yet highly contagious smile. David played golf in our group for many years. Everyone that met him fell in love with him. He was a friend to all. He enriched the life of each and every person he met.

Born in September of 1939 in Duncan, Oklahoma, David was an outstanding athlete and an outstanding student. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma and went on to a successful law career. He later became a judge in Oklahoma even serving as Judge pro tempore on the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

He was a fine artist with oils and water-colors. He was an avid patron of the performing arts. My wife, Liz, and I spent many evenings at live music performances of different genres. He often asked us to join him at music venues that began after nine o’clock at night, but we’d usually decline because he was much younger than we were, even though he was quite a bit older. It seems no one told him to walk slower as the years went by.

David was always up for the challenge. He joined us for golf and oyster eating fests in Mexico. He didn’t hesitate for play golf with us at 7,500 feet in the mountains. When he made up his mind he was going to do something, you’d stand a better chance of staring down a rodeo bull than trying to get in David’s way.

His smile was magic. His heart was huge. His mind was as sharp as a razor’s edge. His embrace was open to all. David Harbour was a hero and a friend to all of us. His strength of character was never more evident than when he suffered the devastating loss of his beloved wife, Janet in 2013. He was kind, caring, thoughtful, and loving. It’s also noteworthy that David made the best rum-cake known to mankind.

At the risk of going too far, I’m going to suggest that you watch the animated film “Coco”. Few Americans have a good understanding of the Mexican holiday el “Dia de Muertos”. “Coco” is a movie about that holiday. It is delightful and educational. Frankly, it’s one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. If I can summarize the message from “Coco” and el Dia de Muertos, it is this: Those that have gone before us attain immortality as long as we the living remember them.

David Harbour will live on for many generations through our actions and memories of his kindness, his work ethic, his love for his fellow man. Over the years, I have passed some of the lessons I’ve learned from David’s example on to my children and my friends. They have passed them on to their families and friends. “The Judge” will live on for generations to come.

Author: h. Alton Jones

writer/scientist/adventurer

8 thoughts on “The Honorable Judge David Harbour – 1939-2020”

  1. Howard Quite a guy Thank you for introducing me to another solid OU grad

    I’m sure you are thankful for your time with him

    Miss seeing you pal

    Hope Cozid has been good for your game!!

    Bob Ritz

    >

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  2. David Harbour was 3 months older than me, but seemed always to have lived more lives!
    Many years ago, David and Janet joined Wendy and me at the Herberger Theatre to enjoy “The Pirates of Penzance”. Gilbert and Sullivan operas are not everyone’s cup of tea, but David, in the middle of the first Act, suddenly started to sing along (loudly) to a favorite song “A policeman’s Lot…”
    He ignored Janet’s digging him in the ribs and stares from others, belting out the first two choruses.
    Abruptly, he stopped and held out his arms in apology all round, with a few David chuckles.
    At the interval he explained that he had acted the part of the police sergeant many moons ago in OK and couldn’t help himself!
    What a great guy.
    Laurence

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  3. I have received many emails with warm comments concerning David. I’ll share a few of them here.

    Wow! What a great guy. I played many rounds with him. He had great insight into the game as well as life.

    Not often you play with someone that after the round you feel better about life in all of its ramifications.

    What a loss.

    Hope all is well for you. Miss you at Gainey1

    JIM

    David will definitely be missed! BOOMER SOONER!!!

    Dave

    Thanks for news about David Harbour. He really was one of the nicest people to know. He will be missed.
    GR

    Thank you, Howard, for a beautiful tribute to a beautiful man.
    Though my interactions with him were infrequent, two qualities stand out: his kindness and his easy smile. To paraphrase John Donne’s Meditation 17, we are all diminished by his passing.
    I’m certain he valued your friendship as much as you his. You were both fortunate.

    John

    Sad indeed we were just talking about David, wondering why we had not seen him in a while. Always enjoyable to be around.

    Do you have info on a service?

    Dick

    Thank you for sending me the bad news about David. He was a good guy and a good friend. I have a text from him on my phone. We were planning to get together after the virus was over. I hope all is well with you. I miss the golf group. Sincerely, Heard

    That is sad news David was a great guy
    Jim

    We should all toast a cold one to our lost golf buddy’s…David.
    Dr. Jack

    Thank you Howard for passing along the sad news. Very nicely done. David will certainly be missed !
    Lee

    I heard the sad news this morning. Dave was a special friend to all of us.

    Definitely many good memories for all.
    I’m glad to have spent some great quality time with him.

    At 110° degrees, I’d always say “Dave call it quits, too hot out here”. Nope never, he’d play till the end and have his cocktail.
    It doesn’t get any better.

    Lets have a memorial Dave Harbour golf event one day.

    Joe

    Wow! What a great guy. I played many rounds with him. He had great insight into the game as well as life.

    Not often you play with someone that after the round you feel better about life in all of its ramifications.

    What a loss.

    Hope all is well for you. Miss you at Gainey1

    JIM

    David will definitely be missed! BOOMER SOONER!!!

    Dave

    Thanks for news about David Harbour. He really was one of the nicest people to know. He will be missed.
    GR

    Thank you, Howard, for a beautiful tribute to a beautiful man.
    Though my interactions with him were infrequent, two qualities stand out: his kindness and his easy smile. To paraphrase John Donne’s Meditation 17, we are all diminished by his passing.
    I’m certain he valued your friendship as much as you his. You were both fortunate.

    John

    Sad indeed we were just talking about David, wondering why we had not seen him in a while. Always enjoyable to be around.

    Do you have info on a service?

    Dick

    Thank you for sending me the bad news about David. He was a good guy and a good friend. I have a text from him on my phone. We were planning to get together after the virus was over. I hope all is well with you. I miss the golf group. Sincerely, Heard

    That is sad news David was a great guy
    Jim

    We should all toast a cold one to our lost golf buddy’s…David.
    Dr. Jack

    Thank you Howard for passing along the sad news. Very nicely done. David will certainly be missed !
    Lee

    I heard the sad news this morning. Dave was a special friend to all of us.

    Definitely many good memories for all.
    I’m glad to have spent some great quality time with him.

    At 110° degrees, I’d always say “Dave call it quits, too hot out here”. Nope never, he’d play till the end and have his cocktail.
    It doesn’t get any better.

    Lets have a memorial Dave Harbour golf event one day.

    Joe

    What a beautiful tribute.

    Anyone who was around him must have a story. One of mine was that I used my obscenely long retriever to fish his favorite hat out of a pond on Ambiente. He never forget to thank me. And, of course, with that smile.

    Bob

    Thank you for sending this… He also made the best Blue Cheese spread…
    Thanks,
    Bruce

    Thank you for your true and wonderful words about judge David……the days i played golf with David were always a treat…..he would laugh when he missed a short putt and shake his head but: when he made a long one he would smile and then look somber for just a moment before we were off to the next tee……he was truly a grand guy

    Maddie

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  4. Howard, this is Kevin Cordell, David’s son in law. What an amazing tribute to him. I will send you the Obit that we ran in the Oklahoma City paper. Thanks so much to everyone who replied. It heals the heart to hear such wonderful tributes. David was an amazing man and our family will miss him very much. Laure and I discussed the possibility of coming back to Scottsdale and have a nice happy hour tribute to him at the golf club. Sincerely, Kevin

    Like

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