Harmon Clayton Killebrew, Jr. passed away peacefully at home surrounded by his loving family on May 17, 2011 after a courageous battle with esophageal cancer. Harmon was born June 29, 1936, the fifth child of Katherine Pearl May Killebrew and Clayton Killebrew, Sr. in a house in Payette, ID. Harmon excelled in all sports and lettered in Football, Basketball, and Baseball all four years of high school. Harmon was offered a football scholarship to the University of Oregon, but signed with the Washington Senators at age 17 so he could help support his mother due to the passing of his father the previous year. His kind and generous heart has...
Harmon Clayton Killebrew, Jr. passed away peacefully at home surrounded by his loving family on May 17, 2011 after a courageous battle with esophageal cancer. Harmon was born June 29, 1936, the fifth child of Katherine Pearl May Killebrew and Clayton Killebrew, Sr. in a house in Payette, ID. Harmon excelled in all sports and lettered in Football, Basketball, and Baseball all four years of high school. Harmon was offered a football scholarship to the University of Oregon, but signed with the Washington Senators at age 17 so he could help support his mother due to the passing of his father the previous year. His kind and generous heart has been one of Harmon's most memorable and endearing qualities. Harmon was too young at age 17 to sign the contract with the Senators, so his older brother Gene had to sign for him as his guardian. The first major league baseball game Harmon saw was the first one he played in. Harmon stopped playing football in his junior year when his mother and his sweetheart were worried about him getting hurt. This lasted several weeks when at one of the games the bleachers collapsed and he said "if you can get hurt watching football, I may as well be playing," and he suited up and was back in the game. Luckily, his coach brought his uniform to every game just in case. He did eventually get a knee injury playing football, requiring surgery. It was that injury that slowed him down as a runner when he later joined the Washington Senators.
Harmon married Elaine Roberts of Payette, ID in Oct. 1955. They had five children together; Cameron, Kenneth, Shawn, Kathryn, and Erin. Harmon and Elaine were married for 34 years and divorced in 1990. Harmon then married Nita Fairbank Patten in 1991. She had four children from a previous marriage, Megan, Melissa, Sari, and Jake. Harmon became a loving and supportive step father to them all and loved them dearly. Harmon and Nita enjoyed many special gatherings with all their children and this brought Harmon great joy.
Harmon played for the Washington Senators Baseball Club in Washington D.C. from 1954-1960. He then moved with the team to the Twin cities and played for the Minnesota Twins Baseball Club in Minneapolis, MN from 1961-1974. Harmon's final year in Major League Baseball was played in Kansas City, MO for the Kansas City Royal's Baseball Club in 1975.
Harmon's honors and awards include; 1959-1971 American League All Star Teams (13 times); 1969-1970 Player of
the year, American League; 1959-1969 American League Home Run Champion (6 times); 1969 Most Valuable Player, American League; 1964 & 1969 Babe Ruth Sultan of Swat Award; 1970 Lou Gehrig Award; 1979 Idaho Sports Hall of Fame; 1980 Idaho Distinguished Citizen Award; 1984 Baseball Hall of Fame, Cooperstown, NY; 1985 American League All Star Team (captain); 1987 Hubert H. Humphrey Memorial Award; 1988 Babe Ruth Sultan of Swat Award; 1989 Kansas City Royals Nostalgia Award; 1996 Ted Williams Hitters Hall of Fame, Florida; 1999 Idaho Male Athlete of the Century; 2000 Minnesota Twins Baseball Hall of Fame; 2002 Olympic Torch Bearer; 2006 Minnesota Sports Hall of Fame; 2006 Humanitarian Sports Hall of Fame.
Harmon began a television career while he was still an active player with WTCN TV, of Minneapolis where he hosted The Harmon Killebrew Pre-game Show from 1961-1972. Harmon's post-player career began with television broadcasting again for WTCN TV of Minneapolis, KPIX TV of San Francisco, CA, where he broadcast for the Oakland A's Baseball Club from 1979-1982. During that same time, Harmon also served as the A's Major and Minor League Hitting Instructor. In 1983, Harmon did broadcasting for KTLA TV of Los Angeles for the California Angels Baseball Club. Harmon then returned to Minneapolis to broadcast for the Twins until 1985.
After retiring from Major League Baseball, Harmon went into private business in Boise, ID. In 1990 Harmon moved to Scottsdale, AZ and established Professional Endorsements, LLC, through which he conducted endorsements and appearances.
Harmon's later years were spent raising funds for charitable organizations. Harmon and Nita established the Harmon Killebrew Foundation to raise funds for other 501(c) 3's in honor of his mother who reminded him frequently "we are here to help each other son!" Harmon's foundation now has established the Harmon Killebrew Legacy Program to raise funds to build Miracle League Fields for physically disadvantaged children in Payette, ID, Phoenix, AZ, Minneapolis, MN and Washington D.C. as well as scholarship programs for Payette High School athletes.
Harmon has always had compassion and sensitivity to people who are disadvantaged or suffering, especially children. Through his foundation, Harmon raised over $10 million for charity. Harmon wants to be remembered for his principles, love of his fellow man and his love for his family.
Harmon was preceded in death by his parents, sisters, Eula and Patricia and brother Gene. He is survived by his loving wife Nita, his children Cameron (Karen) of Atlanta, GA, Kenny of Minneapolis, MN, Shawn (Craig) Bair of Sandy, UT, Kathy (Jim) Taggart of Sandy, UT, Erin Killebrew of Upland, CA, step-children Megan (Darin) Aubrey of Meridian, ID, Lissa Lamb of Nashville, TN, Sari (Brent) White of Mesa, AZ and Jake Patten of Scottsdale, AZ. His brother, Bob, lives in Boise, ID. Harmon has 21 grandchildren, and five great grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to The Harmon Killebrew Foundation "Legacy Program". P.O. Box 14550 Scottsdale, AZ 85267.www.harmonkillebrewfoundation.org
Funeral services in Arizona will be held at 10:00 a.m., Friday, May 20, 2011 at Christ Church of the Valley, 7007 W. Happy Valley, Peoria, AZ 85383. Funeral services in Idaho will be held at 10:00 a.m., Monday, May 23, 2011 at the Payette High School Gymnasium, 1500 6th Ave. S., Payette, ID. Local services are under the direction of Shaffer-Jensen Memory Chapel, Payette.