Edward Neil (Ned) Harper passed peacefully on February 2, 2023. Ned was born on September 12, 1937 in Washington DC. He was the only child of Alan and Kathleen Harper: Alan, a federal government official, and Kathleen, a magazine editor and emigrant from Ireland. Ned lived in many places in his youth, including Washington DC, Montana, and Window Rock, Arizona. Losing both parents at an early age, he spent his high school years with relatives in Santa Fe and at a boarding school in New Hampshire.
Ned studied Political Science in college, first at Stanford and then University of New Mexico. During his graduate work he lived for a year in Brazil with his family while conducting research in Rio Di Janeiro and Brasilia. After a stint in California, he returned home to the four corners area for the remainder of his life, spending several years in Tsaile, Arizona, and then living in Durango for many years. Later, he lived in Shiprock, near Mancos, and in Cortez.
Ned devoted his career to public service working as an instructor at Dine College. He worked first at the Tsaile campus and then at the Shiprock campus. He taught history and political science. He believed his highest purpose was to have large and positive impacts on the lives of his students.
In retirement, Ned volunteered time with KSJD radio and with the Montezuma County Democratic Party. He was greatly concerned about environmental issues and protecting public lands, as well as the welfare of people most in need.
He enjoyed traveling internationally, but was most focused on exploring and recreating in the American West. Over the years his attention shifted between various forms of boating, fishing, and skiing in the winter. He boated the rivers of the southwest, explored its deserts and mountains, and did an extended solo sea kayaking adventure in coastal Alaska. He was also passionate about live and recorded music across the full spectrum of music genres.
While Ned lived a rich life and had many stories to tell, he preferred to listen and learn about family, friends, and any new person he met. He led with curiosity and never ran short of questions to ask – indeed, he cared deeply about others’ experiences and understood that the best way to connect was to actively listen to them. This connection with others led to his love of photography. Ned was almost always carrying his camera with people as his favorite subject.
Ned is survived by his wife Janis Nowlin, sons Sheperd, Joel, and Matt, grandchildren Jonathan, Elena, Colin, Lilly and Izzy, and great grandchildren, Grace and Allison.
A remembrance and memorial tree planting will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday June 3rd. The location will be at Dine College South Campus Shiprock. All are welcome.