By Alex Carter
Harry August Southworth was a major Yelm community leader and World War Two veteran. He attended college at Pacific Lutheran University and South Puget Sound University. Before settling in Yelm though, Harry was a teacher for the Collins School in Evergreen Valley and in close relation to his mother’s Freedom Homemaker’s club. Through the club Harry gathered support and donations for the Collins School. After the Collins school was taken over by the Yelm school system, Harry began teaching at Yelm and becoming a community leader there. He organized a group of boy scouts and taught them many lessons and skills to use.
Harry was also a part time little league coach and possessed an immense fervor for the playing sports. He also became a member of the Yelm Lion’s Club, Yelm Masonic Lodge, and the American Legion in Yelm. Harry was very blessed with his oratory skills and would at times be called upon by the Lion’s Club to make speeches. He was also a member of the Volunteer Fire Department and town basketball team organized by the teachers. Just like his father, Harry was also an avid Methodist and member of the Yelm United Methodist Church.
Just as Harry’s positive influence began spread throughout the community in almost every possible vein, he entered the war effort on February, 4, 1944 and joined the Navy. When Harry left for training in Tucson, Arizona his wife accompanied him as far as Spokane before leaving him. Harry completed basic training on April 12 and afterwards went home on short leave. On June 15 Harry started his training of enlisted men at the San Diego Armed Guard School. After serving in the Navy and completing his duty to his country, Harry went home to be with his kids and further pursue his teaching career. He was a leader for the children and a person that most everyone in town looked up to and respected. His aid to the community was established in almost every venue from seeing children who needed prescription glasses to disciplining troublesome students.
Later on Harry became the school principal and after several successful years returned to teaching for about 5 years before retiring. Even after retirement Harry continued his positive influence on the community and joined the Retired Teacher’s Association before taking time out to travel and be with his family. Harry died shortly on March 30, 1978. He is succeeded by his vast family and further memorialized by the creation of Southworth Elementary School. Harry’s death made a gaping hole in the lifeline of the community, but the important thing is that he lived a full and wonderful life serving his community and the people he loved.