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Remembering Bethel’s Biggest Baseball Fan

Remembering Bethel’s Biggest Baseball Fan

Bill Hargis, volunteer assistant for the Bethel Baseball team, died on April 10 from brain cancer. Bethel’s baseball field, Hargis Park, is named after Hargis and his wife, Joan.

For the past 27 years, Bill Hargis had the best seat in the dugout, serving as Bethel baseball’s volunteer assistant. He died on April 10 from brain cancer. He and his wife Joan, who died in August of 2016, are the namesake for Hargis Park—the baseball team’s home field located on the southwest corner of campus.

His time with Bethel spanned the tenure of three different head coaches, which allowed him to be instrumental in 1,028 games, 562 wins, six MIAC Playoff appearances, and two MIAC championships. Bethel has had just six losing seasons during his time on staff.

Among Hargis's many duties over the years was organizing the annual spring break trip to Florida—something he was passionate about. He made sure every year included a trip to Pinocchio's Ice Cream on Sanibel Island. Bethel baseball’s trip to Florida this spring resulted in a perfect 10-0 record (7-0 varsity, 3-0 JV) for the first time in program history, which was highlighted by a 6-5 come-from-behind victory over No. 21-ranked Johns Hopkins in 12 innings on the last day. That memorable win proved to be Hargis's final game on the bench.
 
Hargis made the lead gift to build Hargis Park in 2000, which gave Bethel baseball an on-campus home field for all practices and games. He was also a lead donor in the infield turf project, which was installed in the fall of 2017, further cementing Hargis Park as one of the best and most picturesque collegiate facilities in the Upper Midwest. In addition, Hargis was heavily involved in helping to secure the funds for the Ona Orth Athletic Complex at Bethel, which is home to Bethel's soccer, softball, and tennis programs.
 
Hargis’s impact stretches beyond the Bethel community as he served as the mayor of Woodbury, Minnesota, from 1993 to 2010. During his 17 years of leadership, Woodbury's population tripled from 20,000 to over 60,000. Today Woodbury's population is over 70,000, the state's eighth largest city. Hargis founded the Woodbury Prayer Breakfast and was a founding member of the Woodbury Community Foundation. He was honored as the Habitat for Humanity Person of The Year in 2006, the Minnesota Care Providers Caregiver of the Year in 1986, Woodbury Citizen of the Year in 2003, and a Hall of Fame inductee by the Woodbury High School Athletic Department.

Hargis was an attorney and CPA by training and was recently self-employed as a real estate investor and financial/business consultant. He is the former Managing Partner/CEO of Good Neighbor, a health care provider. Prior to founding Good Neighbor, he was a partner in the law firm of Doherty, Rumble & Butler.
 
Bill and Joan Hargis have two married sons, Peter (Amy) and Mark (Jennie) and five grandchildren, Mateo, Luke, Emilia, J Thomas, Paul and three step-grandchildren Autumn, Crimzon, Corianda.

A funeral service will be held at 10:30 a.m. on April 18 at King of Kings Lutheran Church (1583 Radio Dr., Woodbury). A visitation will be held from 3-8 p.m. on April 17, at Woodbury City Hall (8301 Valley Creek Rd). In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to: Bethel University Baseball, Woodbury High School Football, Woodbury Community Church, or Woodbury Prayer Breakfast.

Bethel community members remember Hargis:
 
"Bill was a difference maker at Bethel. His love for Bethel baseball and his volunteer work with the team over three decades tells you something about his character. But his influence at Bethel extended far beyond baseball. He served several terms on the Bethel University Foundation Board of Governors, giving wise counsel to the ways we managed our funds. As the key member of the Good Helps Foundation, Ona Orth's legacy, Bill helped to carry out Ona's dream to connect Bethel students to the neighbors in Frogtown and elsewhere who were served by Union Gospel Mission. As he was faithful in carrying out his own commitments, Bill made sure Bethel did as well! He was a great partner and will be deeply missed."
Jay Barnes, Bethel University President

"Bill Hargis was a man who put an unmistakably high priority on faith, family, and friends. As a devoted Christ-follower, husband, father, grandfather, and friend to multitudes, Bill impacted the Bethel community and beyond in remarkable ways. The generosity he showered on Bethel athletics was an indication of the commitment he had for preparing young people to engage the world's most challenging problems for God's glory and our neighbor's good. His vivacious spirit was contagious and will be deeply missed throughout the BU baseball family.”
Bob Bjorklund, Bethel University Director of Athletics

"Bethel University baseball lost an icon with the passing of Coach Bill Hargis. Bill will be greatly missed, but never forgotten. The Bethel baseball community can never thank Bill or his entire family enough for all their support over the many years Bill was involved with the program. God bless you, Bill!" 
Brian Raabe, Bethel University Head Baseball Coach

"Getting to know and learn from Bill Hargis and to be his friend has been one of the greatest honors of my life. His leadership style, the way he served the people and organizations he was involved with, the way he devoted himself to his family, and his deep faith are things that have greatly impacted me. It is hard to imagine what Bethel baseball would look like without Bill's generous gifts, all of which were done to provide a better experience in helping to grow the student-athletes into men of faith and character. A truly remarkable man who will be greatly missed, yet could not have made a greater impact during his time on earth. Thank you, Hargie!"
Tim Beasley, Bethel University Assistant Head Baseball Coach

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