‘We lost 2 first-class people’

Daniel, Mark Harro die in Idaho plane crash

Elisif Harro, Mark Harro and Daniel Harro. (Photo courtesy of John and Denise Harro)

Elisif Harro, Mark Harro and Daniel Harro. (Photo courtesy of John and Denise Harro)

Twin brothers Mark and Daniel Harro, both 2003 Soldotna High School graduates, died in a plane crash in Idaho on Monday morning.

The two brothers were 38 years old and living in Bend, Oregon. Daniel was piloting the plane.

Dan Harbison, who coached the two all four years of cross-country running and cross-country skiing, described the loss.

“It’s devastating for the whole community,” he said. “They’re very well known and well loved here. The impact is pretty big on many many people. We lost two first-class people, they were really great men.”

Mark and Daniel’s parents, John and Denise Harro, were also heavily involved in the local community and now live in Oregon. In Soldotna, John was middle school ski coach and teacher. Denise was a nurse at the hospital, and also helped coach skiing.

Both of the brothers are married without children — Mark to Kelly Harro and Daniel to Elisif Harro. The two women live in Oregon, as does the brothers’ younger sister, Laura, who is married and has a daughter.

Harbison said he kept in contact with the brothers after they left high school. Mark became an artist, Daniel a firefighter.

“They did very well at their chosen professions,” he said. “Of course, that’s just them.”

Harbison said the brothers were the epitome of work ethic. That effort earned them success both in sports, but also in the classroom and later in their personal and professional lives.

Daniel was on the Stars varsity team that won three straight Class 4A state cross-country running titles under the late head coach Mark Devenney.

“I sat in a locker room and got to hear Joe Paterno say, ‘You win with character, not with characters,’” Devenney said in a December 2002 Clarion feature article on Daniel. “That’s what he demonstrates. Character. Every coach would be happy to have a bunch like him.”

Harbison said that holds for Daniel and Mark.

“They brought great attitudes to the team, both of them,” he said. “I would consider them leaders, especially with their peers.”

That sentiment was echoed by Brad Carver, who managed Beemuns Bike and Ski Loft in Soldotna for 20-plus years.

“I hired them when they turned 14, the two of them together,” he said. “Mark worked 10 years and Daniel eight.”

He said either of them could have run the shop on their own.

“I knew since they were little, even before they started working for me, those guys were always hustling,” he said.

Carver said the two brothers had different personalities.

“Mark had a gift with people,” he said. “Daniel’s gift was mechanical.”

Carver described how Mark would work the counter, dealing with people using his great personality. Daniel was “more of a put your head down and just grind stuff out.”

“They were awesome kids to be around,” Carver said. “And I’ve known them since they were probably 2 years old.”

Carver said the two boys would come over to his house, come right in and help themselves to the cookies in the cookie jar and the milk in the fridge.

“Didn’t matter if I was home or not,” Carver said. “They were big brothers to my kids.”

Carver told a story about the boys peddling a snow removal service as kids, towing a snowblower and shovels down the road on a sled pulled with a bicycle.

“One of them was riding the bike,” he said. “The other brother would be keeping things from falling off as they went to hustle snow shoveling jobs.”

The two were also described by Harbison as very adventurous and outdoors oriented. He said they hiked, skied, biked and plenty more. He said Mark once lived in a tent in his backyard for 365 days.

A memorial service will be held for the two men in Soldotna at 4 p.m. on Sept. 4 at Christ Lutheran Church. For those who cannot attend, the service will be livestreamed to the Christ Lutheran Church Facebook page.

A fundraiser has been established to benefit the families of the two men with help from Bridges Community Resource Network, Inc., a local charity organization. It is in the form of a Wells Fargo bank account under the Harro Family Memorial Fund. The account number is 5245643878.

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