Date of Death:  December 30, 2022

Service Details

A memorial service will be held this spring.

Obituary Notice

Frederick Willard “Willie” Harder, 84, of Constantine, MI, passed away Friday, December 30, 2022 at Memorial Hospital in South Bend, IN.

He was born August 29, 1938 in Three Rivers, MI, the son of Charles Laverne and Grace (White) Harder. He graduated from Constantine High School with the Class of 1956.

Willie served his country in the United States Navy from 1956-1959.

On July 20, 1996, he married Joyce Hall. She preceded him in death in 2005.

After her passing, Willie had another chance at love when he married Betty Henschel in 2018, after courting her for 14 years. She survives at the home.

An auto mechanic by trade, he owned Harder’s Auto Service, Constantine, MI.

Willie had a true heart for his community in several capacities, including Citizen of the Year, Jaycees, Lions Club, his service on the Constantine Village Council for many years, a volunteer firefighter, organization of a car show in downtown Constantine, & many other areas too numerous to list.

Willie loved both drag racing, and stock car racing. He made many memories & friends doing what he loved.

Remaining to cherish his memory are his wife, Betty Harder; sons, Bruce Harder of Constantine, MI, and Todd & Lisa Harder of Branson, MO; step-children, Garry & Tina Lee of Kalamazoo, MI, Dawn & Norman Blum of Sevierville, TN, Patricia & Bob Geisenheimer of Portage, MI; Grandchildren, Jared Harder of Hendersonville, TN; Jordan & Emmarie Harder of Ozark, MO and Macy Sicard of Grand Rapids, MI. He had one great-grandson, Kingston Harder of Ozark, MO. He also had many step grandchildren & great grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by parents, C. Laverne & Grace Harder; brothers & sisters, Phyllis Harder, Joyce Mansberger, Warren Harder, & Mary Higgins; and grandson, Jeremy Harder.

Additional Information

Donations in Willie’s memory may be directed to Three Rivers Bible Church or Constantine Fire & Rescue Building Fund, Attn: Chief Haydon. Envelopes are available at Hohner Funeral Home.

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19 Comments

  1. I’ve been inexcusably slow to post my comments about a dear friend, but Willie was absolutely one of the finest gentlemen I’ve ever known. At some point he learned and exemplified the philosophy of “Do Unto Others.” Even when he was beset and frustrated by dementia, macular degeneration and other maladies that would leave a lot of people mad at the world, he was still the first person to sympathize with you, and help in any way he could if you were in need. It’s easy to understand how both Joyce and Betty were smitten.
    I can picture him driving one of his race cars with jazz music blaring in the background.

  2. Sending prayers and hugs to the family!! Willie was a great man with a big personality. Always joking a round. Big hugs to you Betty!! Will miss him coming into the shop and getting his hair cut. I’m glad I got to see him the week before.

  3. I have know Willie for many years and visited him at his shop in Constantine many times over the years.
    Also remember ” Willies Willie ” that he raced along with the Glass Coffin.
    Not sure if i have the story correct back in the late 50’s early 60’s i seem to remember Harry Ward riding on the hood of Willies Corvette manualy working the carburator while Willie was driving it from the parking lot of Peterson Springs heading West; and again if i remember correctly Harry fell off the hood with no injuries. Any one that remembers that situation and it is incorrect please correct my posting.
    Condolences to the family !!!!

  4. Willie Harder – Where to start? A legend in his own time for sure. Willie was about 7 years older than me and one of the “older” car guys around. Glad to see some of them chime in here. Some are already gone – my art teacher Larry Miller for one. I don’t know where we met, maybe at Osceola or Lee’s. I remember going to the “Barn” to see the guys’ cars when Willie was building the famed, “Glass Coffin”. I remember when he beat Dick Brannan at Osceola and Brannan claimed he started in 2nd gear. I remember the older guys cruising through Lee’s. After Willie bought the Willis I went racing with him a couple of times – Bunker Hill and Osceola. I always hung out with him when Arnie was running at Martin. Those were good times. After Willie opened the station in Constantine I’d always stop to see him when I was home from MSU. After I was married and got an old ’57 Chevy six, I had to fool with it trying to adjust the valves. Of course, Willie straightened it out and probably didn’t charge me half of what he should have. I haven’t been back to Michigan in a few years. Whenever we’re there we’re always so busy I hadn’t seen Willie in years. I vowed to buy him dinner the next time we’re there which should be this summer. Regrets are a terrible thing and now that will never happen. As others have said, Willie was a nice guy and always treated people the way a person should. Gone but not forgotten. A big part in my life in those years.

  5. In 1966 I pulled my 63 Chevy that I had just purchased into Willie’s Shell station on East Michigan. I asked Willie what he thought, he listened to the engine, put his rag over the exhaust and told me the engine needed a valve job. I said don’t mess with me, and he said he wasn’t, it needed some work. Went back to the place in Kazoo I bought it from and they paid Willie to fix it. Willie was a wizard around cars and engines. I spent many a time talking to him at his stations in TR and Constantine. Willie will be missed by all the car enthusiasts in the area. Rest In Peace, Willie, you had a Good Ride.

  6. I had really gotten to know Willie over the past few years, after he and my mom got married. I spent a lot of time at their house, including about a 10 day stay to help Mom after having foot surgery. Willie’s sense of humor showed when he and my mom would go back and forth. It sounded like an angry shouting match, but it was only because both had trouble hearing. He made me laugh when he would roll his eyes at Mom as she would be talking to him from another room, assuming he was hearing her. Willie was a very kind, loving, funny, and generous man, and we are blessed that he became part of our family. I wish we could have spent many more years with him, but the Lord had other plans. We are also blessed that Willie’s two sons, Todd and Bruce are just like their father, and are kind and loving to Mom. Thanks guys for helping watch out for her. His extended family has been wonderful to my mom, also. We couldn’t ask for more. My condolences to all of you. Willie is greatly going to be missed.

  7. That is one man that will be missed sorry to hear about your lose I new Willie through my dad Pete Jacobs Willie was one of the top mechanics that dad new he even helped with a couple motors in his antiques

    • Willie and Joyce were amazing folks. He was a good friend to my late husband and me. He was present during Gene’s illness and helped me a lot after his passing. Willie was one of those rare individuals who could always be counted on. He will be deeply missed.

  8. I met willie when I was a 14 year old kid but kinda knew him before that because if you were from Constantine you had to have seen that bright red willies willy drag car that set at the shell station willie operated at the time.willie would let me use some of his tool from time to time and answer any questions I might have about anything. Who knew that a few short years later when I started my career in Autobody painting that that dragster would be my first complete paint job and did paint work years later on a couple more of his race cars. Willie was one of the best human beings I ever met. RIP Willie you and Arnie the farmer keep the rubber burning up there. Prayers for the family 🙏🙏🙏

  9. Where do I begin,. Willie gave me a chance at being a good mechanic 47 years ago, not only did he teach me, he helped me through hard times and I enjoyed good times with him, he was a very good man, A humorous man, and a very serious man, I will forever remember him as being the kind intellectual that he was. May he Race In Peace.

  10. My Best Buddy, born and raised in the Country. We both had a great young life.Jazz music was our thing. Cars was our whole life. Doug Smith Wayne Wilcox you and me attended the Gator National many years from my home in Florida. I will miss you my friend.

  11. Rest in peace Willie, Willie was a good man and a lot of fun. We belonged to a car club back in the 50s. His drag corvette was named the Glass Coffin. He was good at racing. He will be missed by all who knew him.

    • Mike: I was just telling my wife Joanie that Willie had a corvette with “The Glass Coffin” painted on the rear fenders. I tried to explain to her that saying’s were painted on the back fenders of cars’s back in the fifties . She had no idea what I was talking about. Hope you’re doing well.

      • Uncle Willie was a kind loving man. His hugs and laughs were genuine. He will be missed by everyone that ever came in contact with him. Love to all the family for your loss. Kathy and Jessica

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