William (Allan) Harden of Mount Airy, Maryland died on June 17, 2023 at the age of 69. After a 21 month battle with prostate cancer, Allan passed away peacefully at the Kline Hospice House.
Allan was born January 2, 1954 in Baltimore to the late William Carson Harden and June Louise Harden (nee Sickle). The oldest of six siblings, he grew up in a three-bedroom, one bathroom row home in the Riverview neighborhood in Lansdowne. Allan would talk about sharing a room with his two brothers and each of them got one drawer in the dresser. As a child Allan always enjoyed being outside, playing catch, roller skating, riding his bike, and swimming in the backyard pool. As an adult he carried on that love taking his young family on trips in their pop-up camper and hosting pool parties. Later he would host family backyard campouts and kickball games as well as the Pumpkin Bowl football game and pumpkin carving. He always made sure the field lines were properly painted for all sporting events.
Allan attended Lansdowne high school. He excelled in track and was a top sprinter in the area. Allan had a natural gift for numbers and did well in his math classes. When considering what to do after high school, his guidance counselor suggested he become an engineer. When he shared that around the family dinner table, his dad remarked, “Why do you need to go to college to drive a train”. Allan didn’t know what an engineer was and didn’t really consider college an option.
Allan left home at 18 and got a full-time job at King City Thermos. But a chance meeting that Summer opened his horizons. Another worker was a college student and told Allan that the factory wasn’t the place for him, and he should try college. He enrolled in Catonsville Community College that Fall. He thought of being a Physical Education teacher but knew he could never pass gymnastics. He saw Recreation classes and thought that sounded like a good fit.. After a lecture on Joseph Lee and the importance of play he was deeply moved. It took him back to his childhood. Even as a youth he understood that he was having opportunities others were not due to his athletic talents. It spoke to what he always believed that everyone has a right to play and participate. He wrote a paper after the lecture that impressed his instructor, Larry Williams. On the strength of that paper, he was retroactively given an academic scholarship covering his full tuition for two years at Catonsville. The same instructor helped him get a full scholarship to the University of Baltimore where he completed his bachelor’s degree in Recreation. He would return to U of B to get his MBA.
At Catonsville he ran track and cross country. Their talented team was invited to meets across the country which exposed Allan to travel, hotels and eating his first steak. He agreed to help a fellow cross-country teammate run the Maryland Marathon by pacing her for ten miles. When she started to struggle, he stayed with her, finishing the marathon, and qualifying for the Boston Marathon which he ran that Spring.
In his late thirties, a Catonsville teammate reached out to get the relay team back together to compete again in Master’s track competitions. Allan was excited to compete and worked to get himself in the best shape. Ultimately, they competed in the Penn Relays.
Allan was dedicated to staying fit. He would weight lift several hours a week, cycle, swim, and run as much as his knees allowed. Before his cancer diagnosis he was training to return to sprinting for the Senior Olympics.
Allan loved playing on the Monday night 55 plus softball team. He enjoyed the camaraderie of his teammates on and off the field. Always competitive, he was happiest when he was hitting well or made a good play.
During college Allan worked full time for Baltimore City then Baltimore County Recreation and Parks . Allan started his 45-year career with Howard County Recreation and Parks in 1977. He was hired as the first Sports Coordinator. His first day on the job he learned he had no budget. Undaunted he strove to create programs and partnerships from the ground up making the programs pay for themselves rather than relying on tax dollars. Over the years the number of programs and staff grew to one of the largest sports divisions in the Country. Allan’s greatest satisfaction was mentoring and seeing the accomplishments of his staff. He was an esteemed professional in the region serving as President of the Mid Atlantic Sports and Recreation Association.
Allan was an avid sports fan following the Orioles, Baltimore Colts/Ravens and Baltimore Bullets/Washington Wizards. His all-time favorite athletes were Brooks Robinson, Johnny Unitas and Wes Unseld. He read the Baltimore Sun every day and was an avid reader of mystery novels.
Allan was a committed DIY’er. Over the years he built decks, finished the basement, installed wood floors, remodeled the kitchen and bath. He worked hard to keep his lawn in top shape, spending hours dethatching, weed prevention and overseeding.
His favorite meal was crab imperial and a baked potato. Growing up on his mother’s famous cake every night, he had a big sweet tooth. Allan loved ice cream, milk shakes and Boston Crème donuts. He said he didn’t like any vegetables, but he would always eat them first because he hated cold food.
Allan’s greatest happiness was being with his family. Spending time with his wife, daughters, and grandchildren was the thing that meant the most to him. The highlight of his week was Friday night Facetime calls with his grandchildren. He loved travelling and was always willing to go anywhere.
Allan is survived by his wife Holly Heller Harden, his mother June Harden, his daughters, Lisa Orem (Bill), Kate Purcell, and bonus daughter Katie Waddel. His five siblings, Steven Harden, Kathie Sipe (Ken), Gerry Harden (Darlene), Doris Carbaugh (Steve), and Barbara Helfeldt (Will). Brothers-in-law, Jim Heller (Maryanne) and Andrew Heller (Tracey).
His grandchildren, Phillip, Edward, Marion and William Orem. Uncles Alan and Herman Sickle and Aunt Doris Barnes. Nieces Kerry Sipe, April Scott (Jim), and Stephanie Carbaugh. Nephews Phillipe Duvall (Jesse), Jean Luc Duvall, Tyler Hopkins, Nick Harden (Lauren), Will Harden, Michael Carbaugh, Cameron Helfeldt, James Heller, Chris Heller, Casey Heller, and Will Heller.
Allan touched the lives of countless people throughout his life and he will be remembered with love and admiration. He will be deeply missed.
The family will receive friends from 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm on Friday, June 23, 2023 at Stauffer Funeral Home, Mount Airy