Elta Harper


A Celebration of Life for 82-year old Elta J. Harper of Belmont, NE, will be Sat, May 21, 2022, at 2 p.m. at the Christ Community Church in Crawford. Pastor Steve Mallery will be officiating.

Elta Joanne Brunart-Harper was born to Charles Brunart and Josie Jackson Brunart on Jan. 29, 1934, at the San Jose Hospital in San Jose CA.  She passed away on February 20, 2022.

When she was introduced to her 4 year old sister Alverda, the remark was made that “she sure looks rusty” and from that day forward until high school Elta was nicknamed “Rusty”. 

For the next five years, the family lived on a farm where there were acres of homegrown vegetables, free-roaming chickens, goats and a cow. Thus began a fondness for wide-open spaces and healthy living. 

When Elta was about 6, the family moved to Bonny Doon in the Santa Cruz mountains of California. Shortly after their move, she entered the Shriners Children’s Orthopedic Hospital in San Francisco for the reconstruction of her right hand.

She endured 37 operations of skin grafting and plastic surgery over the next several years. Elta spent so much of her childhood at the hospital that she was made the mascot for the arena-filling, East-West Shrine Bowl football games that were hosted by the Shriners Hospital. 

During these years her schooling was between San Vicente Elementary. a one-room schoolhouse in Bonny Doon, and San Francisco city schools when she was at the Shriners Hospital. 

In 1945, the family moved to Davenport, CA, where Elta went to Pacific School before transferring to the Santa Cruz city schools, riding a bus 11 miles to and from school. At Santa Cruz High School, she joined its award-winning choir and participated in many performances. 

Elta entered San Jose State College in 1952, majoring in art. In her senior year, she was recruited to teach 5th and 6th grades at Pescadero Elementary in San Mateo County Ca. 

At the first fall dance, she met the man who would become her husband: James Curtis Harper. They were married December 18th of that same year. 

Elta finished her college degree and continued teaching even after the arrival of their first son, James Henry Harper, on Dec. 12, 1956, and another son, Charles Winton Harper, on Dec. 3, 1957. 

She stopped teaching when a third child, Elizabeth M Harper, arrived on Dec. 29, 1961 – her Daddy’s birthday.   

After living in Davenport for a few years the family moved to White House Canyon and into a small cozy cabin. While raising her children, Elta enjoyed gardening, canning and freezing veggies, homemaking, and transporting children to catch the bus and to and from school.  

Elta loved architecture and drew up plans for a larger house, which was built soon after by her husband Jim and her brother-in-law Elio Orlando of Davenport. 

Several years later, another opportunity arose with a house that needed a remodel and more land to grow a vegetable garden and fruit trees surrounded by beautiful redwood trees, pine trees, and fir trees. 

The move was on again, but after many years in this location, Elta set her sights on something different and they visited several towns and countrysides in Nebraska. 

She and Jim fell in love with a property near the quiet little town of Crawford. Unfortunately, Jim passed away on June 20, 1989. before they had a chance to make the move. 

Even so, Elta continued on with the moving plans and with her mother Josie moved to Belmont in the spring of 1990. They were excited to be a part of the Crawford community and joined the Eagles Club and the Crawford Chamber of Commerce. Elta was voted in as President of the Chamber for at least one term. 

She enjoyed helping Dora Hale with the annual Peabody Hale Old Time Fiddlers contest held in July, in part because years earlier in California, both she and Jim were members of the Santa Clara Valley Fiddlers Association.

Elta had quite the passion for health and wellness, and a passion for Christ. She enjoyed learning of and implementing healthy lifestyle and dietary habits and loved to share her knowledge with others. 

Elta was honored to be a member of Christ Community Church in Crawford. She went on two mission trips” one to Prague and the second to Guatemala with Eldon and Nancy Minks, Roene Hatson, and Rosemary Betson. 

She loved attending church every Sunday and Wednesday, arriving early to make coffee, water the plants, and set up for communion.  She loved her church, and her church family. 

Surviving Elta are her daughter Elizabeth Castro and son-in-Law Larry Castro of Belmont, granddaughters Sarah Castro of Chadron, Ashley Goff of Rapid City, SD, and Julia Rivera of Santa Cruz, CA; great-grandchildren Shawn and Jadyn Raben of Chadron, Chloe and Aiden Goff of Rapid City; daughter-in-law Christine Harper of Santa Cruz, CA; sister Alverda Orlando of Santa Cruz, CA; nieces Rosemary Holbert of Visalia, CA, Luisa Haddad and Lucia Quan both of Santa Cruz, CA, and great-nephews Elio Quan of Santa Cruz, CA, Anthony Orlando of Fayetteville, NC and great-niece Alicia Novy of Visalia, CA.

Elta was preceded in death by her father Charles Brunart and mother Josie Brunart, husband James C. Harper, sons James H. Harper and Charles W. Harper.

 “When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure.”