Harlan: ‘one of the greatest men I’ve ever known’
Roger Harlan, a beloved figure in Park City whose public service extended from the Marsac Building to youth groups, died late Tuesday following open-heart surgery the day before, a death that left many Parkites in shock and prompted an extraordinary outpouring from well-wishers. He was 74 years old.
Harlan was best known as a member of the Park City Council, and he had completed his last term at the end of 2009. He also served in the 1990s and in the early 2000s. He had not publicly acknowledged he was scheduled to undergo the surgery to replace a heart valve just after he left office.
An obituary indicated he suffered cardiac arrest after the surgery.
"We love him. We will miss him dearly," Mayor Dana Williams said during a City Council meeting Thursday night, calling Harlan "one of the greatest men I’ve ever known."
The mayor noted Harlan’s interest in environmentalism late in his career and spoke about his desire years ago to build a skateboard park that helped lead to the construction of a facility in City Park.
Judge Shauna Kerr, at the meeting to administer the oaths of office for Williams and newly installed City Councilors Alex Butwinski and Cindy Matsumoto, told the people in the room Harlan was thoughtful and listened carefully. Kerr had served with Harlan as a member of the City Council.
"It’s with a very heavy heart I’m in this room," Kerr said as she asked for a moment of silence in honor of Harlan.
Harlan moved to Park City in 1987 and was appointed to the City Council in 1992 to serve out the term of the ailing Jim Santy. He won his own terms in 1993 and 1997. Harlan did not seek re-election in 2001 but reappeared on the political scene with a successful campaign in 2005. He drove City Hall buses for a period while he was out of office. He did not put his name on the ballot last year, opting to retire.
Harlan, like many of the City Councilors he served with, was a moderate. He was especially interested in youth issues and recreation policies. In his final term in office, though, he unexpectedly embraced City Hall’s environmental efforts. In an interview just before he left office, Harlan said the green programs are critical and more important to the long-term viability to Park City than were the 2002 Winter Olympics.
"It obviously grew more important to him the longer he was in — we do have a responsibility to the planet," Williams said.
Harlan said in a recent interview some of the environmental progress made during his final term included running the bus system on cleaner-burning fuel, hiring a staffer to manage City Hall’s green programs and building a work force housing project at Snow Creek outfitted with numerous environmental elements.
In his earlier time on the City Council, Harlan had an important role as City Hall crafted plans for the Winter Olympics. He also cast closely watched ‘Yea’ votes in favor of the development that would be built as Empire Pass and in favor of the installation of parking meters on Main Street. He once told The Park Record politicking in Park City is "not going to be a white-gloved tea party all the time."
Harlan spent his career with youth organizations like the Christian group Young Life and the offshoot Sports Life. He led a weekly Bible study for men, according to his obituary. Rob Anderson, the area director for Young Life, said Harlan is a "legend" in the group. Anderson said Harlan likely helped thousands of young people through his work.
"It’s impossible to measure," Anderson said as he talked about the influence Harlan had on young people. "You never know the lives you’ve touched, had an impact on."
Harlan is survived by his wife, Marilyn, three daughters, a sister and grandchildren.
A viewing is scheduled Saturday, Jan. 9 from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. at Miners Hospital. Funeral services are planned at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 10 at the Eccles Center, with a viewing scheduled starting at 1 p.m. prior to the funeral services.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to Young Life of Utah or Friends of Animals of Utah.
The Young Life address is:
P.O. Box 681913
Park City, UT
The Friends of Animals address is:
P.O. Box 682155
Park City, UT
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