Former resident Harriet Harley turns 107

Harriet Harley
Harriet Harley

Mrs. Harriet Tinnes Harley of 3752 Thunder Ridge Road #123, Bettendorf, Iowa is celebrating her 107th birthday today, July 27. Last year friends and family from around the country came to celebrate with her. The mayor declared it “Harriet Harley Day” in Bettendorf. And, she had a T.V. interview with Theresa Bryant of KWQC, Davenport. This year there will be a drive by and a celebration with family gathering at her window. Friends, family, and former students are encouraged to send cards and notes.

Mrs. Harley lived alone in her own home until two years ago. Now, in her apartment, she is active making quilts, reading, and doing word puzzles. She has also done some genealogy and is writing her life story. She thinks that, despite the challenges, in many ways, she has lived during the best of times. Here is some of her story.

Harriet Margaret Tinnes was born in Keokuk County near Talleyrand. She grew up on a farm there working hard, helping nurse her family through scarlet fever, and weathering the depression. She played the piano and taught Sunday school at St. Paul’s Evangelical Church and led 4-H sewing classes in the area. She also served as editor of the Keota Klipper, the Keota High School paper. Harriet graduated in the class of 1931.

After earning her teaching certificate at Parsons College in Fairfield, Iowa, she taught all eight grades in a one room schoolhouse heated by a “potbellied stove.” In 1936, she married Charles Wilton Harley of West Chester. They moved to Davenport where they owned and operated a confectionery called the Karmel Korn Shop and started a family. When World War II broke out, all the young men in her family joined the military. She became a Navy wife and traveled around the country with her aviator husband and her two small daughters. After the war, the family returned to Davenport where the couple owned and operated East Locust Hardware and Building Supply for 37 years. And, she served as first lady when her husband was president of the Iowa Retail Hardware Association.

During the last year, she has been enrolled in the Boston Medical Center’s study of people 105 years of age and older. They hope they can find the secret of their longevity and help others live longer.

She had two daughters: Dr. Sandra Harley Carey (Brig. Gen. J. Ronald Carey), Canyon Lake, Texas, and Linda Leanne Harley, formerly of Dahinda, Illinois. She also has two granddaughters: Bekkie Huffman (Kevin Huffman), Bettendorf and Dr. Debbie Kirchberg (Dr. Tim Kirchberg), Columbus, Wisconsin. Mrs. Harley also has six great-grandchildren: Kisha, Kamryn, and Kelsey Huffman of Bettendorf and Turner, Tanner, and Trace Kirchberg of Columbus, Wisconsin. She is looking forward to the arrival of her first great, great grandchild in December.