Herb Karl Harjes
Herb Karl Harjes

July 9, 1972 - August 3, 2016
Born in Arlington Heights, IL
Resided in Denver, CO
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Before getting into any biographical logistics, it's important to know that Herb Harjes loved LEGO bricks. From his boyhood in Detroit, where his parents allowed him an entire LEGO room, until his adult years, when he graduated his skills to Star Wars ships and Volkswagon vans, Herb loved to build with LEGO bricks. Building, along with its disciplines of architecture and design, functioned as a primary theme in Herb's life. His eye remained ever trained on the yet unrealized possibility, either upward or straight ahead, whether in concrete form or personal friendship. Herb built good things, most of which will last beyond the age of moth and rust. This is one of the many reasons to celebrate the life of Herb Harjes.

Herb was born in July 1972 to Herb and Pat Harjes. When Herb was young the family relocated to Detroit, Michigan - a move that surely inspired and solidified Herb's love for building and for all things with wheels. Herb began his collegiate journey at Valparaiso University in Indiana. However, through frequent visits with his friend Matt Whiteford at Taylor University, Herb built a community of friends at Taylor that inspired a transfer. He studied Communications, studied abroad in Israel, and eventually joined the staff at Taylor in the Communications department. Seeking change, Herb relocated to Salt Lake City, Utah, accepting a job as a shuttle driver for Ramada Inn, which afforded him the chance to boast credentials as "a professional driver". With no compulsion to remain in Utah, Herb moved to Denver in 1999, where he would find significant friendships, discover love, and begin a family. He joined Pathways Church, where he served as an elder and found a community he'd longed for. Here he also met Cara Ann Gosney in 2004, wooing her into marriage in 2005. They traveled. They hosted countless dinners, Supper Clubs, and weekend guests. They each expanded their professional resumes in unexpected directions. Still, through all the action and movement and distractions, they kept their eyes and hearts firmly planted on one another and their wide landscape of friendships. Herb and Cara manifested their bond in 2012 through the birth of Adelaide Irene "Addie Cakes" Harjes. Herb was officially ruined by love. More travels, more photos, more songs, (less sleep) guided Herb and Cara through the early adventures of parenthood. In time, they also found their way to Highlands Church, establishing a new faith community. In June 2015 Herb received a shattering diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. The various communities Herb had built throughout his life rallied together in a single circle around the Harjes clan. Herb and Cara folded in closer than ever, manifesting their bond once again in June 2016 through the birth of Elsie Ida Harjes. Herb was once again ruined by love.

Ask one hundred people to describe Herb Harjes and you'll receive repetition of a mere few words. Generous. Committed. Passionate. Funny. Most immediate stories of Herb involve his contagious laughter. Truly, even as a fully engaged husband and enthusiastic father, Herb never lost sight of his own childlike wonder. A self-proclaimed "Snarky Urbanist", Herb loved the city. He loved architecture and design. His affection for wheels collided with his urban ideals on the back of bicycles and along public transport. His naturalist hopes led him often to the coasts of the Pacific Northwest, to Orcas Island, Washington and Astoria, Oregon where he marveled at boats crossing the same water crashing near his feet. Herb loved music and musicals, good food and chatty tables, strong coffee and long-sipped beers. Professionally, Herb worked in technology, but long before the convenience of social media, Herb could quickly organize a team of 30 to assist in a family's move on a Saturday morning, and he could get a truck loaded in 22 minutes. He also often derided the age of internet connections by frequently mailing hand-written notes and spontaneous gifts, tangible reminders of his lavish affection. He possessed an uncanny skill for remembering seemingly insignificant details about a friend, utilizing them (sometimes months later) in a moment of sincere generosity. He assigned nicknames as a way of revering the uniqueness of individuals and his bond with them. He was funny. Quick witted. And sly. Yet Herb never needed to land the biggest punchline. He relished a good quip, declaring with his wide face-lifting smile, "That's hilarious". It was easy to wile away an entire day near Herb Harjes because Herb genuinely, vulnerably and obviously loved people.

And he never stopped loving LEGO. That's important to remember. That little boy in Detroit building anything his mind could imagine with little interlocking plastic blocks became an accomplished builder of communities, a relational architect designing bridges between various people, their stories, even their unrealized possibilities. Herb's life - the whole of it - crafted strong spiritual structures, made of bricks that will last and that will continue yielding more bricks even beyond his days. His was a house built on the rock. For this reason, Herb Harjes leaves behind many, many lives celebrating his.

A memorial service will be held at 3 PM at Highlands Church 2644 W 32nd Ave., Denver. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to Denver Rescue Mission.




Highlands Church
Church 2644 W 32nd Ave
Denver, CO US 80211
Monday, August 8, 2016
3:00 PM