Retired Refugio County Justice of the Peace dies at 90

JR Ortega By JR Ortega

Oct. 23, 2013 at 5:23 a.m.

Glenn Harsdorff, 90, died Monday after a battle with a lengthy illness.

Glenn Harsdorff, 90, died Monday after a battle with a lengthy illness.

When the strong odor of garlic would waft its way down the old hallways of the Refugio County Courthouse, you knew Glenn R. Harsdorff was on his way.

Harsdorff, a 90-year-old retired Justice of the Peace Precinct 2 in Refugio, died Monday from complications of several illnesses, but the lessons he taught his family and friends will stay forever, said Bob McGuill, a retired Refugio County Attorney.

Harsdorff, a Woodsboro native, always carried cloves of garlic to nibble on, McGuill said, it was part of his healthy living regimen.

"We were around each other during good times," McGuill said. "He was kind of a mentor to me. He was a homespun philosopher and kind of new age."

The two, including Willie O. Brown, a former Refugio County Sheriff's Office captain who died this year, spent days fishing off the coast of Bayside, talking all morning until it was time to head to Crofutt's Sandwich Shop and Bakery for a hearty lunch and, of course, a jumbo chocolate chip cookie.

It's the man behind the justice that McGuill said he'll remember most. McGuill spent some time with Harsdorff last week, holding his hand, making peace.

"Glenn was very outspoken. He was a man of principle, and he would speak his mind, even if it was an unpopular position," McGuill said. "It was a privilege to have known him. I'll sorely miss him."

But before Harsdorff spent 22 years as a justice, there was an adventurous, world-traveling man who enjoyed sharing life lessons and telling stories, said his daughter Linda Lees, of Victoria.

Harsdorff was a World War II veteran and served in the China-Burma-India Theater. But before he became part of the U.S. Army Air Corp. First Air Commando Force, he joined the U.S. Navy - right after high school - but was medically discharged.

During his tour, he flew three glider missions into Burma, including one of Operation Thursday, which was the invasion of a jungle site called Broadway, his daughter said.

"When I was a kid, he didn't elaborate much about his service or anything that was serious," Lees recalled. "Instead, he would tell funny stories."

It was not until Lees grew up that she realized the horrors her father faced in the war.

After the war, he moved to Lake Jackson and worked for Dow Chemical Co., but a union strike sent him back home to Woodsboro, where he established a water well service and ran a service station, his daughter said. He even briefly operated a silver mine in Mexico and worked for a wildcatter in Louisiana and as a building contractor in Freeport.

Still, he returned to his roots, his daughter said.

He eventually moved back to Woodsboro again and opened a lumber yard and continued his water well service.

Then shortly after, he settled down even more and became justice of the peace.

And though he loved his role, he hated responding to wrecks and fires where he had to pronounce people dead.

Harsdorff was a happy man, which is something Lees tries to live by.

"He always got up in the morning and was always happy," Lees said, her voice cracking. "He said every day had its promise, and he was always glad to meet the day."



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