Despite being diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer five years ago, Michael Harms' family and friends say the former Marine did everything in his power to live his life to the fullest.
After his diagnosis, he completed school at Columbia College and graduated with honors. He got married; he traveled; and he took the time to paint his 4-year-old daughter's room bright pink.
"I'm just amazed he was able to keep going," said Jeff Turner, Mr. Harms' first cousin. "He knew that he was terminally ill, but he didn't let that stop him."
Mr. Harms died on Monday, May 14, 2012. He was 28 years old.
Mr. Harms was born in Columbia on Nov. 15, 1983, to Warren and Karen (Turner) Harms. He graduated from Rock Bridge High School in 2002, and then served in the United States Marine Corps for 10 years. He married Rebecca Bolden on May 5, 2011.
Mr. Harms had a bachelor's degree in computer science from Columbia College and an associate's degree in Korean language from the Presidio of Monterey in Monterey, Calif. He spoke three languages – Korean, German and English.
Members of Mr. Harms' family described him as a quiet, thoughtful and intelligent man.
"He never argued about anything, and he never complained about anything," said Sharon Vick, Mr. Harms' aunt. "He was always the most calm, sensitive, brilliant person. He never raised his voice."
In his spare time, Mr. Harms loved playing and watching sports. Baseball was his favorite. Mr. Harms played the sport in high school and enjoyed traveling around the country to attend professional games with his first cousin Capt. Kristen Franke and Vick.
Mr. Harms' last wish before he died was to attend a St. Louis Cardinals game. He, his father-in-law and his wife went to one several weekends ago and enjoyed it despite the rainy weather.
"He had a really, really great time," Rebecca Harms said. "That was his last good day."
Mr. Harms also had a passion for photography. His wife said that on their honeymoon to France and Germany, Mr. Harms lugged his large camera around with them everywhere and filled up at least one memory card per day.
"He could take a picture of just about anything and make it look really cool," Rebecca Harms said.
Mr. Harms cared most deeply about his faith and family. Franke, a captain in the United States Air Force, remembers Mr. Harms taking the time to visit her no matter where she was stationed. Turner described Mr. Harms as the closest thing he had to a little brother. Rebecca Harms said he was a wonderful father.
"I have a picture of him sitting at the little kid table that we have playing tea party with our daughter, pinkies up and everything," Rebecca Harms said. "I think that tells you what kind of a dad he was."
Franke said Mr. Harms was an inspiration.
"He had an adventurous, no fear attitude," Franke said. "He just loved living and learning. He was so brave and strong and he did things without fear despite his diagnosis. He continued with his life, and he’s a fantastic example for all of us for how to live."
Mr. Harms is survived by his wife, Rebecca Harms; daughter, Emma; his parents, Warren and Karen Harms of Columbia; two brothers, Les Harms of Boonville and Derrick Harms of Columbia; one grandmother, Helen Harms; and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins.
Mr. Harms' grandparents, Tom and Dorothy Turner; a grandfather, Marvin Harms; and an uncle, Tom "Buster" Turner, died earlier.
Visitation will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday and from 9 to 10 a.m. Friday at Trinity Lutheran Church, 2201 W. Rollins Road. Services will be held at 10 a.m. Friday at Trinity Lutheran Church . Interment will follow at Memorial Park Cemetery, 1217 Business Loop 70 W.
Tributes may be left at www.memorialfuneralhomeandcemetery.com.