Elaine DuPuy Harder: Equestrian, Rancher, Farmer, Conservationist, Cultivator of Individualism
Elaine passed peacefully at her flint hills home with family by her side.
She leaves behind a legacy of stewardship to the land and animals for which she cared and a lifetime of giving to family, friends and guests whose own individual talents matured and developed by their shared experiences in the wide open Kansas landscape.
Elaine’s spirit thrived in the outdoors as expressed by her own recollections from childhood through adulthood. Summers and weekends were spent on her grandparents’ East Houston farm with her dear brother Fred. The farm was where she began her deep love of land and animals. It became the foundation for her decades long love affair of ranching in the flint hills of Kansas, where she owned and operated the Sun Rock Ranch for over 40 years.
As a red kerchief and gold spurs recipient, Elaine thrived in personal and community contributions and foundational development during her time in the mountains. Upon reading Frank H. Cheley’s “Letters from God”, she wrote in 1955 that “the mountains are where God wrote letters to the children in the form of lakes, trees, flowers and the towering mountains that were explored with whom you were present.” No greater expression of her faith was ever spoken.
The influence at camp provided the foundation for her making yet another strong mark as a fastidious student, and holding her number one Tennis singles place, as a pioneer graduate at St Stephen’s Episcopal School in Austin Texas. Elaine loved the close friendships with both faculty and students as a proctor, and delighted in the time with those she mentored.
Born in Houston, Texas to William Everett & Marguerite Gillette DuPuy on October 16, 1934 she called Texas home until 1957 after graduating Magna Cum Laude from Colorado College with a B.S. in Chemistry and Medical Technology Degree. While at Colorado College, she was a member of Alpha Phi sorority and an avid tennis player. Early desires to become a surgeon gave way to marrying and beginning a family.
Her roots in Kansas were planted after marrying Kansan Roy Harder whom she met in Colorado while he served in the army. They made their home in Manhattan and welcomed 3 children: Aldwin, Michele, and Kelcey. They were also members of College Avenue United Methodist Church. Business relationships formed that exist to this day, while each cultivated independent career and educational pursuits.
Elaine balanced her time at the hospital lab, as a Medical Technologist, with raising her children, golf and tennis, and finding the first piece of the ranch property that she subsequently built into Sun Rock Ranch.
Through the years, Elaine’s Sun Rock Ranch provided Quarter Horse Production sales, Natural Horsemanship clinics, hay rack rides and cookouts, the filming location for movies & television, a piece of the 1996 FEI 100 mile endurance race, weddings, class reunions, numerous birthday parties, and eventually a bed and breakfast, complete with trail rides for visitors from around the globe. For many, Elaine’s Sun Rock Ranch was a place for summer employment, bailing hay, working cattle, riding green horses and training new foals. Her desire to develop youth found her hosting an AFS student from Denmark in 1985. She was active as a Cub Scout Den leader, District Governor with Alpha Phi, a leader in 4H, and member of the Junction City Saddle club.
Elaine raised many young foals that shined in the show ring. She loved the process of getting to the ring, most notably with Goldie. Although the awards were plentiful, her quest for perfection was a gut wrenching experience for her. To see that beaming smile, however, left no doubt in one’s mind that she conquered the goal she set forth.
Emblazoned in the memories of her children are the horse races they lost, when Elaine challenged them against her foundation Quarter Horse Katsy Roper. The youthful, beaming, victorious smile across Elaine’s face that waited at the finish line was enough to ease the defeat. To those who knew her well, you knew if that smile met you, she was delighted you were along for the ride.
Elaine’s family extends their deep appreciation to Vicky, Amanda, Lexi, Dawna, Christina, Accessible Home Health and Accord Hospice.
In lieu of flowers, our family kindly requests a memorial contribution be made to the John Austin Cheley Foundation. Please know that in directing gifts to the Foundation, you are not only supporting the children in the program, but you are recognizing our mother in a very special way. She loved her time in the mountains at Cheley Colorado Camps and carried the code of living she found there throughout her whole life.
“Great things happen when youth and mountains meet.” - Frank H. Cheley
Gifts may be made here directlyA Thousand Summers
by phone at 1.720.981.2532 ext 100, or by mail: John Austin Cheley Foundation, 1420 N. Ogden St. #102, Denver, CO 80218.