Steven S. Harder 1951-2011

Steve Harder and his granddaughter Louisa Pesch.
Steve Harder and his granddaughter Louisa Pesch.

Steven (Steve) Shadle Harder, 59, of Free Union, died on April 23, 2011 after heroically battling pancreatic cancer for many months. He died peacefully on his farm in Peavine Hollow surrounded by his loving family and dear friends who had come together to join in his care with love and devotion.

Steve was born in Greenville, SC on December 7, 1951 to William and Barbara Harder. The family then moved to Annapolis, MD where he grew up. He graduated from Severna Park High School, UMBC and then began his own construction company, Annapolis Builders. He relocated to the Charlottesville area in 1994 and founded Kid Hollow Builders. In 2006, he became project manager for Albemarle Housing Improvement Program (AHIP) where, through their kind support, he was able to work almost to the end of his life.

Steve Harder
Steve Harder

Steve was the beloved husband of Pat Harder. In 1994 they married and together they made a family. Their children are Meghan Pesch of Cobb WI, A.J. Pesch of Crozet, Genevieve Harder of San Francisco, CA, Adam Pesch of Rackerby, CA, and Christian Harder of Annapolis, MD. The family grew to include daughter-in-law Allie Marshall Pesch and two beautiful grandchildren, Louisa and Leo Pesch. In addition Steve was loved by his step-daughter Sarah Fridrich of Silver Spring, MD, his brother and sister-in-law Bill and Pat Harder of Harwood, MD and many nieces, nephews and cousins. He was predeceased in death by his parents and by his sister, Lyn Shaw of Queen Anne, MD who was also a pancreatic cancer warrior. His life was greatly enriched by the many friends he had—some since his childhood and some that he made in his later life.

He leaves behind a legacy of humility, grace, and acceptance. He never questioned, “Why me?” He and Pat worked as a team throughout their marriage as they raised children and goats, and no less so during his cancer journey. Steve’s humor, optimism, and faith sustained them through the hills and valleys of treatment. He was a true craftsman whether in building and remodeling homes or relationships. He was dedicated to service, professionalism, and community and never backed down from a challenge. He was particularly proud of his twenty years of sobriety. Steve showed us how to live a life of quality and die with dignity and strength.

The family would like to give special thanks to the many health care providers who cared for Steve. Truly, some of the kindest people in the world work with the most challenging of medical conditions. Among these are his physician and friend, Dr. Bruce Campbell and his staff, Dr. Zazakos and his staff of the H.O.P.E. center at Martha Jefferson Hospital, his medical team at Johns Hopkins Cancer Center in Baltimore, Cindy Janechild, Cali Gaston, and Hospice of Piedmont—all of whom gave him excellent care and much needed support.

Friends and family are invited to join in Steve’s memorial service and potluck celebration of his life at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 30 at Wesley Chapel, 5210 Wesley Chapel Road, Free Union, VA 22940.

In lieu of flowers, tax-deductible donations may be sent to the non-profit AHIP (2127 Berkmar Dr. Charlottesville, VA 22901) or to support pancreatic cancer research at Johns Hopkins University (with Steve’s name on the memo line) mailed to Ralph H. Hruban, M.D. Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, 410 North Broadway, Weinberg 2242 Baltimore, MD 21231-2410. Online condolences can be made at under obituaries.


  1. I have wonderful childhood memories of Uncle Steve. My condolences go out to the entire family. I look forward to reconnecting with you all at the memorial service this Saturday.

  2. I can’t make it to the service, but my thoughts and prayers are with all of you. Steve really was a great guy and he will be missed terribly. I am so glad that we made it down to say goodbye earlier this month.

  3. Thank you for sharing this tribute to Steven’s life that we might know a little better the richness he added to our community. Thank you, too, for including the pictures, especially love the one with Louisa! Our sincerest condolences to your family.

  4. So saddened to learn of Steve’s passing. I have many fond memories of Steve growing up in Severna Park along with his brother Bill and my brother Terry. This is a lovely tribute for a very fine man and compassionate human being. My condolences to all.

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