Bob Harker, Iowa State '43
The color purple means a lot to all of us as FIJI’s, but for Brother Robert Harker Iowa State ’43, it’s also a reminder of the courage he demonstrated while on the battlefields of Iwo Jima during World War II. For his efforts during that brutal campaign and the many other trials and tribulations he faced during his years in the U.S. Navy, he was awarded with the Purple Heart, Presidential Unit Citation, and Silver Star. Brother Harker was initiated into the Iowa State chapter during his later years as an undergrad, only one year before he graduated in 1943. Nevertheless, it sparked an element comprised partly of determination but more of dedication, a precious quality that is revered among many FIJIs around the world.
What a better person to look up to than Brother Harker? That’s why he was elected vice president of his pledge class during his undergrad years.
Not more than one year after graduating, he was off to fight in WWII for two years, giving himself a four-year break before he returned to the armed forces to serve another two years.
When he fulfilled his ambition to serve our country, Brother Harker put the knowledge he learned during college to work, spending 42 years in the chemical industry. During his tenure in that field he worked for one company so long, it switched names four times. He can be credited for being involved in the start up of the first deep tank production of penicillin in 1944, and also his experiences in the nitration of propane and other high-pressure reactions.
In his spare time, Brother Harker spent countless hours in the Boy Scouts and spent 55 years in the Kiwanis Club. He and his wife Charlotte had two sons, one who made him a sire. His son, Craig, is an Iota Sigma ’73.
As a graduate brother, Brother Harker certainly didn’t forget his roots. He was the treasurer for both Tau Iota and Rho Phi house corporations. One of Brother Harker’s biggest influences was his work obtaining quality housing for both the Rho Phi and Iota Sigma chapters as well his insistence that the Rho Phi chapter operate as a business as well as a brotherhood. This is one of the reasons that the Rho Phi House Corporation is one of the wealthiest housing corporations in Phi Gamma Delta.
When reflecting on Rho Phi, Brother Harker could only think about how much he’s received from giving so much.
“Rho Phi’s success is rewarding for the effort, which was expanded 35 years, also by graduates from other chapters,” he said.