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 06, 2012
    Lynn Dunning Kinstler says:
    Heartfelt thoughts and prayers. Wonderful memories to cherish of Mr. H and the whole Harnett clan and our days in Bloomington growing up around the pool deck.

  • June 06, 2012
    Amy (Brown) Fletcher says:
    Pam and family, My deepest condolences for the passing of Dr Don. I will treasure memories of working with him in ODT for many, many years. He was always upbeat and a joy to talk with. I never hear a Jimmy Buffet song without thinking of him! He was a special person and he will be missed. All my love, Amy (Brown) Fletcher

  • June 06, 2012
    Nancy & Wright Faatz says:
    We are sending our sincere sympathies in the loss of Don. Fond memories of Pam and Don will always be with us. May you take comfort in God's strength and love. Nancy and Wright Faatz

  • June 04, 2012
    Meral Demirbag Buyukkurt says:
    I was a PhD student during Don's first term as the Department Chair. I will always remember him as a kind and caring person. He was a leader who had the best interests of all of us, even those who were not his students. I extend my condolences to his family. Rest in peace Don.

  • June 04, 2012
    Kathy Bassett says:
    Pam and Family, Please know that my thoughts and prayers are with you all at this difficult time. Kathy