Harvey Hawbaker stood on the court, facing a crowd who gathered to not only watch a basketball game, but to celebrate a man that had come to define what it meant to be a Shelby Coyote. He spoke to the crowd, not about the many achievements and accomplishments that made up his illustrious career, but of his family. This man, who so rarely let his emotions show, couldn’t help but choke up as he brought his children and grandchildren on the court with him to help memorialize the newly named Hawbaker Court. One week later, on Saturday Dec. 21, Harvey Richard Hawbaker passed away peacefully, surrounded by his loving family.
Harvey entered the world on May 5, 1935 in Scobey, the son of Roy and Edith Hawbaker. His parents had 11 children, with Harvey helping mentor and raise many of his younger siblings. The family lived in Peerless, where Harvey graduated high school. He spent one year at Eastern Montana College, where he played baseball. Harvey then chose to serve his country, serving in the Army for two years before returning home to Montana.
He completed his schooling at Montana State University-Northern in Havre where he earned a degree in education. He went on to earn a master’s degree in school administration.
He married Veanne Quackenbush on August 3, 1957 and the two would go on to create a loving family. They had three children - Perry, Trish and Jim - eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren - who were so very important to Harvey. He travelled the state watching them compete in sports, participate in extracurricular activities and always had to check in on report cards as well.
Harvey and Veanne moved to Shelby in 1960, where his hard work and talent as an educator led to him consistently rising through the ranks of the school district. His career in Shelby started as a history and physical education teacher at the junior high. He then became principal of the junior high in 1975 while also overseeing the district’s transportation services. Eventually, Harvey would become principal of Shelby High School in 1977. He also held the position of Athletics Director after a long career coaching football, basketball, track, baseball and golf.
Throughout his career, his goal was to ensure that all the youth of Shelby received a quality education. Harvey sought to provide as many opportunities as he could to get kids involved in extracurricular activities.
He retired in 1991, but never stopped to rest. There was always a project ahead of him. He spent plenty of time at his shop, where his creations helped grow and nurture the family he created. Whether it be bookshelves, bed frames or wooden rocking horses, the fruits of Harvey’s labor can still be found in the homes of those that loved him most. He also operated a sprinkler system business, and in the summer could often be seen with a grandkid at his side, who was given the honor of being his assistant for the week.
He shared everything he knew and was a kind and inspiring leader. Harvey’s presence made you want to not only better yourself, but also the community around you. He gave selflessly to the school and community of Shelby and was known no matter where he traveled.
In the fall, Harvey and Veanne could be found in Missoula every Saturday taking in Montana football games. Even away from Shelby, the pair couldn’t make a trip to Washington-Grizzly Stadium without multiple stops. Be it old students, former colleagues or just friends, he was known to most as Mr. Hawbaker and never shied away from a conversation. He would shake your hand with the firmness of a vice and ask about your life, genuinely caring and listening to your story.
And there are few who could weave a tale as well as Harvey - as those at Taylor’s Farm Store, where he started many mornings with a cup of coffee, know well. While the details may have sometimes blurred reality and fiction, there is no doubt he lived more than one lifetime's worth of stories. He loved sharing these with his grandchildren, reciting from his time in the military in Hawaii or growing up without electricity in small town, Peerless.
Some of his favorite stories were of his time serving as a MOA, officiating many high school games before ending his refereeing career at the Frontier Conference level. He also loved to hunt and golf, and he enjoyed many special relationships with those who shared these experiences with him. He enjoyed family golf outings and is the only member of the Wagner Open Hall of Fame.
Harvey served on the Shelby City Council from 2000-2016. He was an active member of the St. Williams parish, as well as many civic organizations including Kiwanis. The naming of Hawbaker Court came as recognition of a career that saw him manage many tournaments in the gym. His devotion in this endeavor earned him the MHSA Service Citation Award in 1993. Harvey was also a member of the Montana Association of Secondary Principals. He and Veanne were also recipients of the President’s Award from the Chamber.
His family would like to thank all his friends, students and their parents, fellow educators, athletes and coaches; his hunting, golfing and officiating buddies; and the people of Shelby and the Hi Line who were part of his life. He loved the community of Shelby. Go Coyotes!
In lieu of flowers the family would ask that donations be made to Shelby High School athletics, Toole County Education Foundation Scholarship, St. Williams parish or organization of donor’s choice in his name.
Harvey is survived by his wife, Veanne (Quackenbush) Hawbaker and their three children, Perry (Laurie) Hawbaker, Trish(Rick) Wagner), and Jim (Tracy) Hawbaker. He will be fondly remembered by his eight grandchildren, Mack (Megan) Hawbaker, Michael (Brianne) Hawbaker, Lucas (Haley) Wagner, Mitchell (Haley) Hawbaker, Rachel (Clint) Barkell, Jackson (Taylor) Wagner, Bryce Hawbaker and Sydney Hawbaker; as well as his two great-grandchildren Finley and Cohen Hawbaker. He is also survived by his siblings, Eddie (Bonnie) Hawbaker, Donna (Oliver) Grove, Jim (Norma) Hawbaker, Kelly (Twila) Hawbaker, Ken Hawbaker, Marcia (Greg) Garcia, Harland (Linda) Hawbaker; as well as numerous nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Roy and Edith (Hrabik) Hawbaker and his siblings, Pete Hawbaker, Levi Hawbaker and Leah Adams.
Rosary services will be held Sunday, January 5, at 5pm. Funeral mass will be held Monday, January 6th at 11:00am. Both services will be held at St. Williams’ Catholic Church.
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