John J. Harkins


John Joseph Harkins, 82, of Benzonia, died Aug. 20, 2018.
John was born on Jan. 14, 1937 in New York City the son of Michael Harkin and Bridget (Thompson) Harkin. Both parents were born in Ireland. The family moved to Stuart, Florida, in 1946.
John attended Martin County High School and graduated as valedictorian of his class in 1955. He was named as alternate candidate at the U.S. Naval Academy. He continued his education at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida and graduated with two bachelor's degrees in electrical engineering and industrial engineering (with honors).
Upon graduation he accepted a position as a senior quality control engineer with ITT in Chicago, Illinois, where he met and married his loving wife, Shirley, on March 3, 1962. He did post graduate work in business at Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago.
In 1965 he joined Morton Salt Company as a plant engineer at the Manistee facility. Through a series of relocations and promotions, he assumed positions as assistant plant manager to plant manager and finally in Chicago as director of evaporation plants for all of Morton Salt facilities. John's career took him to Painesville, Ohio, where he was named assistant mine manager. He attended Case Western in Cleveland to obtain a certificate in environmental science. Next were positions at Hutchinson, Kansas, as assistant manager, Marysville as plant manager, Glendale, Arizona, as operations manager and then to Chicago, where he served as director of evaporation plants until his retirement in 1998 after 34 years with Morton.
Prior to retirement, John and Shirley purchased their future retirement home in Benzonia in 1993 and a winter home in Palm Coast, Florida, in 2003.
John was an avid golfer and tennis player. He was a member of the Society of Mining Engineers, served on condominium boards in Michigan and Florida and was on the Board of Citizens for Access to the Lakeshore at Sleeping Bear Park. John was a very active member of numerous clubs (Rotary and Kiwanis) and sports programs for kids in the communities where he lived. He coached two tee-ball teams in Painesville, which were the first in Northeast Ohio. John and Shirley also enjoyed traveling and visited all 50 states and made six trips to Ireland.
John was raised Catholic, was very strong in his faith and was most recently a member of the St. Ann Catholic Church in Frankfort.
Surviving to cherish his memory and generous spirit are loving wife, Shirley (Joplin) Harkins, of Haslett; sons, Randy, of Kalispell, Montana, and Tim, of Rochester Hills; daughter, Shannon Harkins-Padgitt (Riley), of East Lansing; grandson, Timothy (TJ) Harkins, of Rochester Hills; and granddaughters, Clancey Padgitt and Finni Padgitt, of East Lansing.
John was preceded in death by parents, Michael and Bridget Harkin; sister, Margaret (Harkins) Chavez; and brother, Michael Harkins.
The family will be holding a private memorial service at a later date to honor John. He will be interred in the Benzonia Township Cemetery at a later date.
For those desiring, contributions may be made in memory of John Harkins to the Alzheimer's Association at or the Lewy Body Dementia Association at
The Bennett-Barz Funeral Home in Beulah is in charge of arrangements;
Published on September 12, 2018
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