MUSKEGON, Mich. – Kristi Fielding was only 15-years-old when she found the best friend she planned on being with until ‘death do us part’.
“He was 17 years old. Their love was true love. He would write my mom and me poems, letters and we always knew we were loved,” said Natalie Harpe-Moler, daughter of 53-year-old Craig Harpe of Muskegon.
On August 21, 1982 the young couple were married at Ruddiman Creek the same place where investigators discovered his body after he went missing last week. Investigators say it appears he drowned.
Harpe was a long-time resident of Blodgett Street in the Lakeside neighborhood; in fact, he was raised just a few doors down from the home he purchased with his wife, Kristi. They raised three children inside those walls.
“I remember when someone would move into the neighborhood, he would walk us over to the house to greet them and to see if there were kids for me and my two siblings to play with,” Harpe-Moler said.
At age 18 he joined the Carpenters Local 100, said his daughter, and worked odd-and-end jobs to help support his family.
“One time I was fighting with a neighbor girl, arguing, name calling kid stuff. My dad heard me make fun of her dad for being a garbage man. I then received a lecture about working for an honest wage. I never forgot that,” said Harpe-Moler who now holds a Masters of Science Degree in Human Development and Family Studies.
Her father retired at age 42 after his battle with multiple sclerosis, said Harpe-Moler. “He feared that the MS would debilitate him and I take solace in the fact that he beat MS.” She said on September 6, 2013 her father told her, “I never thought I’d see one of my children turn 30 years old.”
Natalie’s father never made it.
“He missed it by one day. He drowned on September 8, 2013,” she said.
Instead, she along with search teams were looking for the man she called her best friend.
She remembers her father as a ‘kind soul’. “He was my heart,” she said.
Just before her dad went missing, she said her father worked off the labor on a neighbor’s car because the person couldn’t afford to get it fixed. It was just another kind gesture for a man called ‘Mouse’, the neighborhood long-timer who lived on Blodgett with his beau.
She said, “From a young age my father taught me that anything is possible and to never let people hurt one another. He always fought for the underdog.”
A memorial service will be held Tuesday, Sept. 17 from 1-4pm at Systema Chapel, 1547 W. Sherman Blvd., Muskegon.
A tribute page was created in his memory.