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Santa Clarita CA
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Today in
S.C.V. History
November 17
1969 - Construction begins on Magic Mountain amusement park [story]

Now and Then in the SCV
| Monday, Nov 30, 2015

darrylmanzer0215He was a shipmate of mine, even if we never served on the same ship.

When I met Duane Harte, I immediately felt we had weathered the same seas in ships large and small. We loved the same things – especially the history of the Santa Clarita Valley.

We made a great team when we joined together on tours of Mentryville. He tended to keep me on track with my particular slant of Mentryville history. I needed that. Of course he would do that, because he was a senior chief petty officer, just keeping the crew in line. I imagine he is doing the same today since he crossed to the other shore.

With all he did for our little piece of California, the local seas are going to be a little rough until those 10 or more folks needed to fill his shoes get up and running.

Really, just how is the Fourth of July parade going to get lined up and rolling on time? How about the work he did for veterans all over this valley? Or the Elks? And we cannot forget the Senior Center, the Boys and Girls Club and just about every little and big event here.

duane_scouts2015Most of those events would not have happened without his efforts.

I think the one thing that set him apart from all of the other folks is that he gave of his time, talent and treasure and expected nothing in return in the way of recognition. When he was named the SCV Man of the Year in 2003, I think he didn’t really expect to get it. He said at the time there were people far more qualified for the title. Funny – we couldn’t name those folks then, and we cannot name them now.

Compared to Duane, the others – while some of the best volunteers in the SCV – held only a candle to Duane’s huge spotlight.

Duane didn’t turn on that spotlight. I doubt if he knew it even had a switch to do that. That switch was found each and every time he took on a function, event or task that would in some way make our little valley better. He seemed surprised that a spotlight came on when he did.

Harte leads a tour in Mentryville's Felton schoolhouse. Photo by Evelyne Vandersande.

Harte leads a tour in Mentryville’s Felton schoolhouse. Photo by Evelyne Vandersande.

The spotlight was on the project. Usually, if there was a program for an event, you would see his name off in the corner of the page while those less involved got top billing. Duane wanted it that way, because he was more concerned that the event was a success instead of him wanting to look good.

Last July 4, I pulled into William S. Hart Park to get my Jeep in line for the parade. Without looking at the clipboard, he was able to tell me where to park and what order I would be in. He also had me provide parade transportation for a Democrat. Yep, he got a laugh over that. I did, too. That was Duane.

Harte "rescues" a gopher snake from the kitchen of the Pico Cottage. Photo by Ron Kraus / Placerita Canyon Nature Center Associates.

Harte “rescues” a gopher snake from the kitchen of the Pico Cottage. Photo by Ron Kraus / Placerita Canyon Nature Center Associates.

For every event there is a Duane Harte story. Things like giving a tour in Mentryville for the folks from Placerita Canyon Park and having a rattlesnake show up for them. Duane remarked that he had that done on purpose, since they didn’t seem all that interested in history. Well, they did want to look at the snake.

That same tour, we went inside Pico Cottage (aka the “Big House”) and Duane was able to find a small garter snake, and then he rescued a little sparrow. He released both outside. I’ll bet the folks on that tour are still talking about it.

I just had a short discussion with him about Mentryville and Pico Canyon. He expressed, as always, his hope that the old town could be restored. If it ever does happen, there has to be some sort of recognition for him in the town. He wouldn’t want it for himself; he would want it for the town.

Rattlesnake surprise. Photo by Evelyne Vandersande / Placerita Canyon Nature Center Associates.

Rattlesnake surprise. Photo by Evelyne Vandersande / Placerita Canyon Nature Center Associates.

All that he did was done with a smile and a willingness found in very few. All that he did was done out of love and nothing more. He asked for nothing in return.

Now Senior Chief Quartermaster Duane Harte has crossed to the other shore. His watch is over, and we somehow have to take that watch from him. It won’t be easy. He set the example at the highest level.

So, shipmate, I say to you: “Rest your oar because we have the watch. Fair winds and following seas are your blessing. The mess has an empty chair that can never be filled. You are missed greatly, so just rest your oar; you have crossed to that other shore.”


Services for Duane Harte will be held Saturday, Dec. 5, at 11 a.m. at The Sanctuary Church, 26444 Friendly Valley Parkway, followed by a graveside service at Eternal Valley Cemetery at 1:15 p.m. and a reception at the Elks Lodge on Sierra Highway at 2:30 p.m.



Darryl Manzer grew up in the Pico Canyon oil town of Mentryville in the 1960s and attended Hart High School. After a career in the U.S. Navy he returned to live in the Santa Clarita Valley. He can be reached at dmanzer@scvhistory.com. His older commentaries are archived at DManzer.com; his newer commentaries can be accessed [here]. Watch his walking tour of Mentryville [here].



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  1. Linda P. says:

    Excellent and heartfelt article, Darryl. I am sorry that I never had the opportunity to know this wonderful person.

  2. jimvs says:

    Nicely done Darryl. Requiescat in pace.

  3. Kelly says:

    Beautiful tribute, thank you.

  4. Lisa Orefice Lisa Orefice says:

    What an awesome man !! RIP ☮☮

  5. Bob K says:


  6. never had the pleasure of meeting him. died too early

  7. Ruthann Levison says:

    Although you and I have only seen each other in passing at community events, I want to compliment you on this tribute to Duane. So many of us have our own special relationship with Duane (& Pauline). You have captured him so beautifully and I thank you for that.
    Ruthann Levison

  8. Ruthann Levison says:

    Thank you for your beautiful tribute to Duane. We all have our own special relationship with him & Pauline. You captured his spirit so beautifully and I wish to thank you for that.
    Ruthann Levison

  9. Denny says:

    Great tribute for a great man. Unlike some so-called community leaders, like certain auto dealers and land development staff, Duane never sought attention for his good deeds. His efforts weren’t aimed at increasing his personal exposure or financial gain. He did what he did solely for the good of the community. Rest in peace, Duane.

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