James R. Harper, 86, formerly of Darlington, passed away Sunday at Bickford Cottage in Crawfordsville.

Mr. Harper was born April 7, 1928 at Garfield, to Roy and Helen Moffett Harper. He married Jeanette Patton in November 1949 and she preceded him in death in June 2010.

Mr. Harper graduated from Darlington High School in 1946.

He worked his whole life in the construction business. He started with the Soil Conservation Service running the bulldozer. He then worked for the State Highway department as a surveyor. For several years he ran the concrete batch plant for Russell F. Davis construction. He served as Crawfordsville street commissioner for 10 years under Mayor Knecht, during which time he served as president of the Indiana Street Commission Association for one year.

He finished his career as it started, running a bulldozer and excavator doing farm construction projects alongside his grandsons, son-in-law and good friend. He won the Montgomery County Master Conservation Farmer of the Year award in 2000. He passed on a wealth of knowledge about heavy equipment operation to his grandsons, skills that he spent a lifetime developing.

In April of 1947 Jim, along with his brother, Glen, were two of the first 11 enlisted members of the Service Battery 139th Field Artillery Battalion, Indiana National Guard, receiving Federal Recognition on the 17th of April 1947 at the Darlington Armory. He rose to the rank of First Sergeant before being honorably discharged in 1958.

Mr. Harper was an avid hunter and outdoorsman and was an original member of the Darlington Conservation Club. He helped plan the pond, which is still in use today.

Survivors include: sons, Andy Harper of Marion, Ohio, son, Adam Harper of Darlington and daughter, Amy Harper Cain (Terry) of Darlington, as well as seven grandchildren; Heather Harper, Ben Harper (Jane), Erin Harper, Jess Cain (Melissa), Zach Cain (Marie), Katie Martin (Collin) and Seth Cain (Ashley), nine great-grandchildren; Conner, Elizabeth, Anna, Abigail, Paige, Emilee, Asher, Macey and Ryan with two more on the way; a brother, Glen Harper (Marilyn) of Noblesville, sisters; Florence Wright of Crawfordsville and Mary Ann Caldwell of Lebanon, along with several nieces and nephews.

A visitation will be held Saturday at the Darlington Community Center (Armory) from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Funeral services will follow with burial at Greenlawn Cemetery in Darlington.

Contributions can be made to the Darlington Community Center, P.O. Box 578, Darlington, IN 47940.