Conner’s Corner: Loss of a super, superstar

By Ray Conner
Kern Valley Sun

It’s with a heavy heart that I sit in front of my computer and write this special Conner’s Corner.

You see today is a sad day for a lot of people as one of the great ones has left this world.

I can find no other way to express my feelings to her and her family other than putting words to paper with some of the memories I have of this special lady.

I’m not sure how many lives this woman impacted over the years, but there are quite a few young adults and children that know all about Pat Harker.

Pat passed away on Monday leaving behind a legacy that made it very special knowing her if you had the opportunity.

When it came to sports, Pat was a diehard Chicago Bears fan. But her favorite sport was NASCAR.

Of course her husband, Jim, was a local who at one time did the Bakersfield circuit of racing.

Pat was his biggest fan and supported him at most every race.

I first met “Miss Pat” at Mt. Mesa Lanes way back in the early ‘90s. We bowled in the Friday Party League. She was a real good bowler.

Then a few years drifted by, and when my wife and I moved to Squirrel Valley, not only did I get back into bowling and Pat and Jim were still rolling the ball down the lanes, but I truly found out how much she loved NASCAR.

Her favorite driver is Denny Hamlin, so much so that she named her recent dog Hamlin. I just wish that Hamlin, the driver could have pushed past Kevin Harvick in Sunday’s NACAR race. That would have been a fitting tribute to Miss Pat.

There have been plenty of racewatching on the Harker’s back patio where the walls have a big flag of Hamlin the driver, not the dog.

It seems to overshadow Jim’s favorite driver, the “cheating” Brad Keselowski, and her brother Dan’s driver, Jimmie Johnson.

It would be a standing joke when she would go inside to do something and she came back out, we would always say Hamlin crashed, and her look was priceless and scary at the same time.

You see, you didn’t mess with Pat when it came to NASCAR and Hamlin.

I remember another time we were watching a race and in her garage she has a sign that says, “Bears Fan Parking Only.” One day I covered up the Bears with apiece of paper that said NY Giants.

I’m not sure how long it was there, but the next time I went over for a race, Pat snuck up behind me and taped it across my mouth. Because everyone knew that Pat never got mad, she would always, and I mean always, get even.

Pat’s profession was making sure some kids had a place to go while their parents were at work. I hesitate to use the term baby-sitter, because Pat was much more than that.

Pat truly cared about all the kids she was in charge of, so much so that she would make sure to attend some of the sporting contests they played in.

Many kids that went through Kern Valley High School, and some are still in school, can be proud that Pat had a hand in shaping them into who they are.

Another sport Pat was into later on in life was playing in Texas Hold Em’ Poker Tournaments. When Pat first started playing she was a little intimidated. But as she played more she became a force to be reckoned with. I remember one tournament her husband Jim took her out of the tournament when she went all in. She wasn’t exactly mad, but I’m sure Jim probably slept on the couch that night.

I’m sure if there were a Hall of Fame for people that truly cared for others and was special in every other way, our SUPERSTAR Pat would be a unanimous selection.

So Pat, you might be gone, but one thing is you’ll never be forgotten or replaced in our very special book of memories. Thanks for allowing me to be a small part of your life.