Obituary: Earl Michael “Mike” Harding |

Obituary: Earl Michael “Mike” Harding

Earl Michael "Mike" Harding
Earl Michael "Mike" Harding
Provided Photo

July 25, 1933 – March 5, 2022

Gone but never forgotten, we lost one hell of a beloved SOB on March 5th, 2022. Earl Michael Harding was born on July 25th, 1933, in Oklahoma City to Rae Belle and Earl “Axel” Harding. The youngest of four in a crowded home, Mike picked up on critical life skills early, such as how to cook with Crisco, spin a yarn, and speak to women. A show pony from the start, Mike attended Taft Junior High and “Old” Classen High School where he was the star captain of the football and track team and was proudly the starting running back in the first ever televised football game in Oklahoma. When the opposing team wasn’t chasing Mike, female constituents of the Classen High student body usually were. A trail blazer his whole life, Mike was the first of his family to attend college, despite crying protests from his mother. He graduated with a BBA in Finance from the University of Oklahoma in 1955, and remained a Sooner for life, relishing any opportunity to visit campus for a home football game or Kappa Sigma tailgate, where he could swap stories with his fraternity brothers (not fit for this publication). Following graduation, Mike, a life-long patriot, enlisted in the U.S. Army as a 1st lieutenant artillery officer, beginning his service at Ft. Sill in Lawton, Oklahoma, and later deployed to Taegu, Korea, where he served a 14-month tour. Upon return, Mike attended law school at the University of Oklahoma, graduating in 1960, and eventually barring in Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Degree in hand, Mike and his wife moved to Beverly Hills, where they gallivanted with Hollywood celebrities, often mistaken for stars themselves. However, as soon as Mike’s daughter Casey was born in 1961, he got out of Dodge and hauled it to Salina, Kansas, to both practice law and start raising his family. In 1962, Mike’s second child was born, Michael. Following his Red River roots, Mike moved again in 1968 to Dallas, Texas, where he would raise both Casey and Michael, and where he also started the MCM Construction Company, building residential and commercial developments throughout Oklahoma and Texas. Mike retired from his construction business at the ripe young age of 81 in 2014. Mike was always the life of the party, even when he ‘chaperoned’ trips with his kids and their friends every summer to the lake house he built at Lake of the Arbuckles, where he would personally supply water ski lessons, fried chicken, and cold beer. The fun with Mike however was year-round, taking his kids and their same rag-tag crews each year to ski in Vail. Mike, in his one-piece white racing outfit, was easy to spot on the mountain, perhaps even more so as he donned the same outfit whizzing down the mountain at age 85. Mike didn’t just teach his kids (among many others) to both water and snow ski, but also his grandchildren, and was very proud to teach three generations how to ski and drink beer at the same time. Not one to be bashful, Mike didn’t have many secrets, except for his recipe for the world’s greatest pie crust. Mike provided his famous pies, including pecan, coconut cream, chocolate and apple, among many others, to darn near every hospital nurse, highway traveler, and horse trader south of the Kansas border. He could often be spotted delivering pies around town either in his red Roush Mustang, or off the back of his Harley Davidson motorcycle. Mike is survived, loved and missed dearly by his daughter Casey Harding Williams and her husband G. Rainey, his son Michael O’Connor Harding and his wife Whitney, his grandchildren Rainey, Sam, Grace, Casey, and Callaway, and the love of his life and companion of the last 16 years, Joye Bryan. Per Mike’s request, there will be no funeral. Instead, his family will be hosting a Celebration of Life later this spring. Memorials may be made to the Oklahoma Humane Society, PO Box 18471, Oklahoma City, OK 73154, Services are under the direction of Vondel L. Smith and Son Mortuary North, 13125 N. MacArthur Blvd., Oklahoma City, OK 73142

Support Local Journalism