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In Memory

Harlan Wyrick (Wyrick)

Harlan Wyrick

Friday, February 28, 2014


Harlan Wyrick


June 16 1919 - Feb. 28, 2014

CAMBRIDGE, Nebraska -- Harlan Wyrick passed away Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, at his home in Cambridge. He was 94 years old.


Harlan was born June 16, 1919, to Harry and Pearl (Lyman) Wyrick in Omaha, Nebraska. In 1926, the family moved to a farm near Ord, Nebraska. Harlan attended rural school prior to graduating high school in Ord. After graduation, at age 16, he enrolled in Kearney State Teachers College from which he graduated in 1940 with a double major in chemistry and biology. While in college, Harlan was privileged to have been selected by Dr. William Bruner to spend a summer traveling the western states studying the local flora and fauna with him.


Harlan taught for one year at Bertrand before enlisting in the Navy, in 1941, as a Pharmacist Mate 2/C. His first duty station was near Boston, Massachusetts, where he worked as a laboratory technician until Dec. 7, 1941, at which time he was sent to the recruiting station in Boston. He served there until January 1943 when he received his commission as Ensign and was sent to the University of Miami at Coral Gables, Florida, to attend the celestial air navigation school taught by Pan American Airlines air navigators. Upon graduation in May 1943, he was dispatched to an air transport squadron based in New Caledonia. The balance of the war was spent in the south and central Pacific as a navigator on two - and four-engine seaplanes. He was honorably discharged from active duty in February 1946 as a Lieutenant; he remained in the naval reserve.

Following release from active duty, he attended the University of California at Davis, California, for one semester. In September 1946, he joined Shell Oil Co. at its agricultural research laboratory in Modesto, as an herbicide specialist. While there, he and two other Shell chemists were granted U.S Patent #2,714,064, "Dialkanephosphinic Acid Amides and Use Thereof as Plant Growth Regulants." This discovery resulted from using a new technique of applying the chemical to soil containing weed seeds rather than waiting and spraying the emerged, growing, plants. This technique has been adopted as the commercial practice now known as "pre-emergent" weed control.

In 1953, after six years with Shell, Harlan returned to Nebraska to teach school and help his parents with their farming operation. Both careers became a labor of love for the next 30 years. From 1953 to 1955, Harlan taught high school at Oxford, Nebraska, where he met his wife, Mabelle Westerbeck, of Arapahoe. They were married in 1960 in Arapahoe. In 1955, Harlan transferred to McCook High School to teach chemistry, physics and mathematics. In 1957, he was granted a one- year "leave of absence" to secure a master's degree from Oklahoma State University. In 1958, he returned to McCook High School for one year before accepting a position at McCook Junior College in 1959. While at McCook College he worked diligently to improve academic standards in the science/mathematics courses to enable all credit hours to transfer to any four-year college. In addition to teaching, Harlan was very active in the improvement of McCook College through curriculum expansion, assisting in promotion of increased building construction and improved public image. He resigned from McCook College in 1976, devoting his full attention to his farming operation until 1982.

Harlan and Mabelle moved from Indianola to McCook after Harlan retired and began traveling extensively abroad until Mabelle's increasing health problems restricted their travels to the U.S. They then began "wintering" in Arizona. Mabelle's death in 1998 ended a most wonderful marriage.

In 1999, Harlan was again blessed with a second wonderful marriage, to a family friend for 20 years, Alvina Becker of McCook. Alvina's health needs prompted them to move to Kearney in 2004. They also traveled abroad and wintered in Arizona until Alvina's passing in 2005. With his great love of travel, Harlan continued traveling visiting Africa in 2007, South America in 2008, British Columbia, Canada, in 2009 and Nova Scotia, Canada, in 2010. This last year at age 94, Harlan attended the 138th running of the Kentucky Derby and in September accompanied friends to Las Vegas.

He returned to McCook in September 2009 to live at the Willow Ridge Retirement Community, reluctantly leaving his many good friends in the Kearney area. He was a member of a Methodist Church (Indianola, McCook, Kearney and Cambridge) for over 60 years. Harlan was a 56-year member of the American Legion Mathias Colling Post No. 344 in Indianola. He belonged to Rotary and Kiwanis Clubs wherever he lived. Rotary International designated him as a Paul Harris Fellow in 1989.

Harlan was well aware that he was the recipient of a great many of our Lord's blessings and was determined to leave this world better than he found it. He attempted to give 110% to everything he did, career, marriage, and life. He was happiest when helping others. His brilliant mind and wonderful sense of humor have touched thousands of souls in this world. He will be missed.

Memorials may be given in his name.

Visitation will be Tuesday, March 4, 2014, from 1-8 p.m. at Carpenter Breland Funeral Home in McCook. Friends may go online at www.carpenterbreland.com to extend condolences to the family.

Funeral services will be Wednesday, March 5, 2014, 11 a.m. at Cambridge United Methodist Church with Rev. Jeff Wulf and Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Thurman officiating. Burial will be in the Indianola Cemetery at 1 p.m.

Friends may send condolences online at www.carpenterbreland.com. Carpenter Breland Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.