Cover photo for Miner Yerxa Harkness's Obituary
Miner Yerxa Harkness Profile Photo
1929 Miner 2021

Miner Yerxa Harkness

October 6, 1929 — December 25, 2021

“The mountains are calling and I must go, and I will work on while I can, studying incessantly”
-John Muir

On December 25, 2021, Miner Yerxa Harkness passed away at his home in Hailey, Idaho at the age of 92. He died peacefully with a gentle fire near and a quiet view of the snowy hills and river, surrounded by his family.

Miner was born in Pasadena, California on October 6, 1929 to Alice Yerxa Harkness and Edson Miner Harkness of Sierra Madre, California. He grew up in Sierra Madre, swimming the canyon pool and hunting Hastings Ranch. Miner’s heart forever remained in the mountains and the coast he was born in. He spent many of his early summers in San Clemente as a surfer and lifeguard. He was an avid surfer, as well as a member of the San Onofre Surfing Club, for many years. Nature was his lifelong passion.

When his nation called, Miner answered. He joined the National Guard and was quickly drafted into the US Army. Miner served with honor in the Korean War from 1951 to 1953. He was deployed as a member of a heavy mortar company in the 24th and 40th divisions of the US Army and was honorably discharged at the end of his service. Miner remained a proud veteran for the rest of his life.

After coming home, Miner took over his father’s insurance company, Miner Harkness Insurance. He expanded the reach and impact of the business and provided insurance to friends, neighbors, and the community for over 50 years. Still, Miner’s true love was the Sierra Madre Search and Rescue Team. His Army training and larger-than-life personality made him a natural leader. As a fixture of the team, he helped pioneer new uses for bloodhounds and helicopters in mountain rescue. Over 30 years, almost a decade as President, and many lives saved, he developed tactics and protocols that pushed mountain rescue forward.

In 1962, he married the love of his life Sara whose steadfast support helped him achieve all that he did. Together they raised three sons and two daughters. In the first half of his life, Miner built a successful business, raised a family, and contributed to his community. He trained bloodhounds to save lives in the mountains of the Western United States, surfed thousands of waves, skied hundreds of runs, and had a seemingly limitless capacity to find friends wherever he went. When an accident stole his ability to surf and ski and climb at just 59 years old, Miner took up new interests with the same passionate intensity with which he lived his entire life.

In his later years Miner retired to Idaho where his love of nature helped shepherd a new generation. Miner and Sara set deep roots in their new community. An active member of the Presbyterian Church and the local Legion chapter, Miner was a fixture in many a Fourth of July and Wagon Days parade. He continued to honor his lifelong love for the outdoors and, even as he relied on a cane and later a wheelchair, he never missed a hunting season or a chance to go fishing. Not age or worried family or illness could stop him. More than once, he took his electric wheelchair so far off road he had to be towed out. At 92 years old, Miner was still looking for the next Elk or preparing to take a boat out for a day of fishing.

He took pride in teaching his grandchildren and great-grandchildren to shoot, fish, drive, build, and work. Many of us learned to clear a chamber, tie a fly, clean a fish, and direct a dog at Poppy’s knee. But most deeply, Poppy taught us to live with humor, strength, and passion, to try anything and when we did to devote ourselves to it fully. Poppy took nothing for granted. He was a good man and a good friend. He was loved, by his wife and his family, by his friends, by everyone who knew him. He was strong. He was funny and kind. Most of all, nothing changed him; he was himself, always. He leaves a hole in the hearts of his family and many friends who loved him deeply and will miss him.

He is survived by his wife, Sara Harkness; daughters, Andrea Barrett and Claudine Miranda; their spouses, Mark Barrett and Vittorio Miranda; son, Jacques Lalanne and his spouse, Danette Lalanne; son, Philippe Lalanne; niece, Lucia Nelson and her spouse, Jeff Nelson; six grandchildren, two great-nieces, and five great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents; his sister, Mary Alice Meredith; and his son, Richard Harkness.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you donate to the Sierra Madre Search and Rescue Team in memory of Miner. For a brief look into Miner’s life and his place in Sierra Madre history please see the link below.

The Search for Billy a documentary featuring Miner and his search for a young man lost in the mountains in the early 1970’s.
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Miner Yerxa Harkness, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

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Cremation under the care of Wood River Chapel

403 N Main St, Hailey, ID 83333

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