Donald Gregory Hardesty, age 75 of Ozark, died October 31, 2023. He was born May 15, 1948 in Tuscola, Illinois, the son of Harry Sr. and Fern Katherine (Cazel) Hardesty.
On August 16, 1969 Donald was united in marriage to Esther Marie Higbee. He proudly served his country in the US Navy as a flight mechanic on the USS Kitty Hawk during the Vietnam War.
Don was always a tinkerer and enjoyed working with his hands. He was a precision machinist and turned this skill into a successful business, Industrial Machine Products. If he wanted to do it, he did. He took his love of the water and learned to sail; he took his love of all things old and learned how to take pictures with a vintage camera; and, he took his love of art and woodworking to build a home complete with totem poles, exotic tiles, and of course a painted dragon in the hardwood of the hallway. After he retired, he spent many years as part of a cowboy shooting club. He liked making new friends, dressing up as a fancy cowboy, and pouring his own lead. He claimed he was never a very good shot, but we all knew better. Don also led the Ozark Masonic Friend Lodge #352. His wife lovingly referred to his role of Worshipful Master as the “Grand Poo-Bah.” In his later years, Don continued his love of all things art. He painted, colored, drew, sculpted, and built models. He also took up the banjo. He learned several tunes, but his favorites were songs about Christmas and the joy that time of year always brought him – even if putting up the tree made him swear out loud. As with everything in his life, if he wanted to do it, he did.
Don also loved spending time with his family. He and his wife loved to travel to far flung places including China, Transylvania, Ireland, Czechoslovakia, Fiji, Peru, Scotland, Ireland, Romania, Bulgaria, Iceland, Germany and many others. Their passports were filled! Most recently, they took a final trip to Michigan for a family reunion. Don spent this trip catching fish, enjoying the sunshine, and laughing. Family was always where he turned to find joy.
Don’s survivors include his wife, Esther Hardesty of Ozark; his children Dawn Bates and her husband William of Lee’s Summit; Connie Huber and her husband Chad of Andover, Kansas; Wendy Sanchez and her husband Hugo of Strafford; and, Joshua Hardesty and his wife Laura Speir of Columbia. He earned the nickname Grumpy when his first grandchild was born and it stuck, as nicknames do. His grandchildren include Meghan Fencl, Brady Bates, Lawton Bates, Zachary Huber, Ethan Huber, Morgan Huber, and Evan Sanchez; and great-grandchildren Miracle Fencl, Judah Fencl, and River Fencl. He’s also survived by his brothers Ronald Hardesty and his wife Marilyn of Ozark, and Harry Hardesty, Jr. of Walnut Shade.
Don was preceded in death by his parents.