Aspiring farmer killed in crash

Employer Dan Peterson speaks of his life

Staff writer

Konley Harding, 21, of Burdick, was killed at about midnight Oct. 27 when he was struck by a vehicle on U.S. 24 while walking about two miles east of Manhattan. Why he was walking on the highway is unclear.

Witnesses told Pottawatomie County sheriff’s officers that they observed an eastbound white vehicle run over Harding and continue eastward.

Harding was a student at Manhattan Area Technical College and planned to graduate in December. He graduated from Centre High School in 2009. He was popular with students and staff and was selected fall homecoming king in 2008.

Harding worked for farmer Dan Peterson of Burdick for six years beginning at age 15. He worked summers and weekends.

Peterson said Harding was an ambitious young man and very pleasant. When Peterson first gave him a list of things to do, Harding said,

“You’re missing something on your list. Up at the top, it should say, ‘Enjoy your day.’”

That has stayed with Peterson ever since.

“Konley had quite a smile,” Peterson said. “He never had a bad word to say about anybody, and he would do anything for anybody.”

Harding had dreams of having his own farm. He picked up jobs wherever he could. While attending technical school, he hauled trash before school started in the morning, worked as a clerk at a convenience store, and came out to Burdick to work on the farm. Peterson said he sometimes unexpectedly showed up on weekdays during the busy season and worked all night in the field before returning to Manhattan.

Several years ago, he rented 240 acres of land and acquired some cattle and hogs. Peterson shared facilities and equipment with him.

Harding had his sights set on purchasing the Burdick homestead of Peterson’s mother, the late Myrtle Peterson. A month ago, he informed him that he had the necessary cash and was ready to make a deal. But it was not to be. His life was cut short.

“We were caught up in his hopes and dreams and were helping him make it happen,” Peterson said. ‘We are glad to have known him and to have worked with him these six years.”

Harding has two younger brothers, Kordell and Kendall. Kendall is a senior at CHS. They live with their father, Kelsey, and stepmother, Candace, at Diamond Springs east of Burdick. They lost their mother, Lois, to cancer in July 2004.

Penwell-Gabel Funeral Home in Council Grove is in charge of arrangements. Visitation will be from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday. A memorial service is scheduled for 1 p.m. Friday at Herington Community Building.

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