Donald Lee Harnett

April 26, 1937 - June 3, 2012
Donald Lee Harnett


It is with sadness that we announce the passing of Don Harnett on June 3rd at home and in the loving company of his family.

Don was born in 1937 in Everett, WA, to the late Anne and Arthur Harnett. In addition to his parents, he was predeceased by grandson Jackson Walker Burroughs and step-daughter Jennifer Meyer.

Don graduated from State College High School where he played football, basketball, and tennis. He earned his B.A. and M.A. at Penn State University and played varsity tennis and intramural handball and was a member of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity. He earned his PhD. in Statistics and Business from Cornell University and followed in his father’s footsteps to become a university professor when he joined The Kelley School (Indiana University School of Business) in 1964.

Throughout his distinguished career Don held numerous administrative positions including chairperson of the MBA program, authored textbooks that set many standards in the field of quantitative business analysis, consulted as a technical expert, and contributed to over 20 research articles. But it was Dr. Don’s (as his students affectionately called him) enthusiasm for teaching that set him apart as a mentor and steward for four generations of students. His 41 year tenure at Indiana University will not be forgotten by undergraduate, MBA and doctoral students alike, who reminisce fondly about his willingness to make any subject interesting and fun. It was this love for his students, profession and innovation that led Dr. Don to be the recipient of numerous university and national teaching awards and a loved and respected colleague.

Don delighted in encouraging others to try new things and to simply enjoy life. Most important to Don were family and friends. He could always be found helping and participating with his children’s activities and interests throughout the years. His grandchildren always knew Grandpa Don would be willing to play monopoly, jump in the pool, ride a bike, play mini-golf, read, or attend an event with them. Making waffles and pancakes with Grandpa Don was a favorite activity.

Don had many interests and was an active athlete throughout his life. His loves included playing tennis with his many friends and family, watching IU basketball, being outdoors, sailing, kayaking, theater and musicals, traveling, reading and volunteering in his community.

Don will be most remembered for his positive, upbeat view of life, sense of humor, and gentle, caring nature.

Survived by the love of his life, wife Pam Harnett; “older ” sister Mardi Wallace (Tom), brother in law Jack Conn (Mary), son Kendall Harnett (Deanna), daughter Tina Harnett Pettingill (Brian), step-daughter Sara Burroughs (Bruce), and son in law Doug Meyer; grandchildren Gibson, Parker, Spencer, Grace, Avery, Jacobi, Juliet, Christopher, and Aidan, special nieces and nephews, and many beloved friends both old and new.

A short service will be held for Don at the Columbarium at the First Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, NC, at 10:30am on Monday, June 11th , with Dr. Ernest T. Thompson III officiating. A reception celebrating Don’s life will follow beginning at 11:30am at the Nicklaus Clubhouse at the Country Club of Landfall in Wilmington.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Lower Cape Fear Hospice Foundation, 1414 Physicians Dr, Wilmington, NC 28401 or Caring House, Inc., 2625 Pickett Rd., Durham, NC 27705.

Please share memories and condolences by clicking on the “Sign Guest Book” tab above.

Wilmington Funeral & Cremation , 1535 S. 41st Street, Wilmington, NC 28403. 910.791.9099


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  • June 05, 2012
    connie & mark taylor says:
    Don was a guy who thought of others before himself. That's why he was such a wonderful teacher and friend.

  • June 05, 2012
    Suzi Motley says:
    I never thought that when I became Don & Pam's cat "nanny" that I would soon come to have an extended family. Don will always hold a special place in my heart. He was such a kind, caring and gentle soul. He will be greatly missed by his family and those who new him. Love, Suzi

  • June 05, 2012
    Lisa Castor says:
    I'm so sorry to hear of Don's passing. He was a great person. I enjoyed working with him in ODT, he was a great department chairman and a great faculty to work for.

  • June 05, 2012
    Alvah and Janice Bohannon says:
    Pam- Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. I have missed playing tennis with Don, he was such a joy to be around. We both are big Jimmy B fans, glad he heard those great songs and enjoyed them. God bless you and your family, Alvah & Janice Bohannon

  • June 17, 2012
    Tom and Marla Lenz says:
    Pam, Marla and I have been on vacation, so we apologize for not writing earlier. It was wonderful to see you and Don, during your visit to the Kelley School. It brought back so many fond memories. Don was a pillar of the School, someone I looked up to and learned from as did many others. It seems you will have many family members to provide support during this difficult time. We are sad to learn of Don's pasing but wish you the very best. We will keep you in our prayers. Sincerely, Tom & Marla