Ronald "Ron" Lee Harper of Stanley joined his Lord in Heaven on April 14, 2012. Ron Harper leaves an extraordinary legacy of accomplishment, friendships, wisdom and generosity. He was born in Oldtown, MD on December 3, 1932. After high school, at 17 he joined the Marines. In 1952 at age 19, he married Katherine Hodges from Charlotte, NC. Ron and Katherine raised a family of five and spent nearly 40 years of their married life working together in the printing industry.
In 1971, they founded their own company manufacturing printing press rollers and made it a highly successful business with factories in Charlotte, NC, Wisconsin, Germany and Thailand. Ron Harper was an innovator. He made Harper Corporation the global leader in the printing roller industry and revolutionized printing quality with advanced technology. Ron Harper's business philosophies and achievements are told in one of his books "The Harder I Work, The Luckier I Get." There are flexo departments named for the Harpers at many colleges in the Carolinas as well as in Chicago, California and Wisconsin. CPCC has the Harper Campus "The Harper National Flexographic Center", and manages a Ron and Katherine Harper Scholarship Fund. Appalachian State University dedicated the Katherine Harper Hall in 2007. In 2009, the Harpers generously donated funds to the Clemson University graphics department. Mr. and Mrs. Harper co-chaired a drive in 1999 to raise $1 million for flexo education in high schools and donated the first $100,000. They helped establish flexographic printing programs in 21 high schools and 32 colleges in the U.S., Canada, Argentina and Costa Rica with similar technical training programs. Mr. Harper was passionately involved with The Foundation of Flexographic Technical Association and was elected to the FFTA Hall of Fame in 1999.
Charlotte Chamber of Commerce named the Harpers "Manufacturing Champions" in 2007.
In the 1980s, Mr. Harper served as Chairman of the Democratic Party of Mecklenburg County, 1995 Gov. Jim Hunt appointed Ron Harper to the NC Education Fund board of directors. In 1997 Ron won the Governor's Excellence in Workforce Development Award. Harpers' support for Carolinas Red Cross moved the organization to name a facility that improves response time to citizens in crisis the "Katherine Harper Disaster Staging Area."
Ron and Katherine Harper moved to Stanley in 2008. Ron and Katherine donated matching funds to help get an interactive Smart Board in each of 2,000 classrooms in Gaston County. Ron Harper said "I haven't seen anything that parallels the Smart Board, when it comes to creating enthusiasm, curiosity and fun-while-learning environment". The Harpers generously financially supported the Stanley community; including the Stanley town clock, a Smart Board for the Brevard Station Museum on Main Street in Stanley; plus an upgrade to the museum. Ron's passion has been financially supporting the efforts to build Harper Park on Blacksnake Road. Ron Harper said "It may not be the largest park in North Carolina, but it will be the best." The Gaston Gazette chose the Harpers for the 2010 Spirit of Freedom award and they received the Order of the Long Leaf Pine State recognition from Governor Perdue in 2010.
With his wife and partner in all pursuits, Ron Harper created a guiding philosophy for his business and personal life: "Focus only on making a profit and we will struggle. Focus on doing the right things consistently every day for our customers, our employees and our community, and success will follow." He wrote that the important questions in his life were "Have I made a difference in this world? And have I had a substantial positive influence on someone's life in the course of my lifetime? I pray I have." Thousands of friends acclaim that Ron Harper has indeed made the world so much better in so many ways that will never be forgotten.
Survivors include: Katherine Harper, his loving devoted wife of 60 years, sons Danny (Lynn), Jim (Heather), Christopher; daughters Margie (Hal) Kluttz, Georgia (Derek) Patterson. Fourteen grandchildren; Ten great-grandchildren. Brothers Dick (Norma) Harper, Gary (Mona) Harper, Steve (Linda) Harper. A special thanks to Candi Lethcoe, Kim Jones and the staff at Stress Free Home Care for their dedication and care.
A Celebration of Life Service will be held Saturday, April 21 – 2 pm @ Christ's Evangelical Lutheran Church, 203 S. Main Street, Stanley, NC 28164.
Carothers Funeral Home – Stanley, NC is caring for the Harper family. Condolences may be sent on-line to: www.carothersfuneralhomestanley.com
In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to: Gaston Hospice, P.O. Box 3984, Gastonia, NC 28054; or Harper Park, P.O. Box 279, Stanley, NC 28164; or Christ's Evangelical Lutheran Church, Backpack Ministry, 203 S. Main Street, Stanley, NC 28164
Carothers Funeral Home in Stanley is serving the Harper family