ForeverMissed
Donations in lieu of flowers:

Zach loved the outdoors. It was often the focus of his photography, played a large role in his personal life (he was always hiking, biking, snowboarding and camping) and featured in many of the ways he gave back to the world. Zach spent time volunteering for trail clean ups and really cared about land conservation. The Moosalamoo Association works to build and maintain trails near Zach’s childhood home, striving to make nature accessible to everyone. If you feel moved to make a donation to a charity in Zach’s name, we think he’d find this one deserving! Donations can be made via its website (please mention Zachary Harder in the comments box): https://moosalamoo.org/donate
Zach also had a close connection to Maine, after moving there four years ago with his partner, Kirsten. For those of you who think of him there and would like to make a donation in Zach's name to a Maine charity, we think he would have liked to support the Central Maine chapter of the New England Mountain Bike Association. Zach had been planning to join and volunteer with them and they have an upcoming initiative to build a new trail system, which is something Zach would have loved! Donations to NEMBA can be made here: https://www.nemba.org/shopzone/page8.html
Zachary Harder passed away unexpectedly on September 18, 2020, while biking on an autumn day in Maine. He lived every day to its fullest, doing what he loved, and thus he died doing what he loved. He left us too soon, but was spared the heartache that we all now face in his absence. He lived a truly happy life.

Born on January 28, 1989, Zachary grew up and went to school in Middlebury, Vermont. He spent his last years in Augusta, Maine. As a child, many summer days were spent fishing with his brother for “lunkers” in the Otter Creek, exploring in the woods, hunting for old bottles with his sister Caitlin or setting sail on a pirate ship with his sister Allison (a fallen pine tree can easily become a pirate ship with a little imagination). He shared many special hours with his mother, looking at nature, having good coffee, and mercilessly beating her in Catan. His father will always remember laughing at Monty Python with Zach, and snowshoeing across frozen lakes in Maine.

Zachary was always active, he loved great food, good music, hiking, biking, camping, rooting for the Celtics, and he had a wild sense of humor. On top of all this, he was a talented photographer. Some of his most stunning photos were taken just weeks ago, while hiking Mount Katahdin with Kirsten, his partner in love and adventure. Zachary was driven: he was not content to stagnate. Whether studying graphic design, practicing photography, or working for a good cause, he was obsessive in his desire to improve. This energy must now be passed on and multiplied by those he loved.

Zachary leaves behind his partner, Kirsten Brewer; his parents, Leigh and Gary Harder; his sisters, Allison Disant and Caitlin Harder; his brother, Matthew Harder; his uncles, aunt, cousins, niece and nephew and brother in-law; a rambunctious pup called Emmie and a fat cat called Amazon; as well as many dear friends, including James Hurteau, who was a loyal friend by his side at the end.

Zachary is loved infinitely, he will be missed finitely: "a brief parting from those dear, is the worst one has to fear."

Posted by Gary Harder on October 8, 2020
Zachary was and is such a joyous presence to his family. To commemorate his spirit we will be planting a quaking aspen in our yard next spring. The aspen is a symbol of ongoing life and resurrection. Leigh and I ran into a whole grove of them on a hike today in the Moosalamoo area on Widow's Clearing Trail. Please see the video I posted in the video section of this website.
Posted by Anh Ducharme on October 6, 2020
My dear friend Kirsten asked me to pick up some guy so he could join us on vacation. . I thought I had a long car ride ahead, but it went by so quickly. I still remember him saying “Kirsten’s never seen me without facial hair... “ Aww you look good, Zach, but I had never seen him with facial hair. But it was/is what’s inside that matters. :) Such a dear sweet guy, true and valiant. I still have to catch my breath when I contemplate the loss. But our loss was truly our gain. ❤️
Posted by Angela King on October 3, 2020
I only met and spoke with Zach once, enough to know that he was a caring, community-minded person. We walked in Augusta with Kirsten and pets to identify areas to improve for bike/ped. To all his loved ones, I am so sorry for your loss. This quote comes to mind: "Unable are the loved to die, for love is immortality." – Emily Dickinson
Posted by Leigh Harder on September 30, 2020
Zachary, my son. I got to be with you and watch you grow from infant to toddler. Toddler to little boy, little boy to teenager. Teenager to young man and then a man in his prime. It was a gift to have you as my son. Not always easy, mind you, but always a gift. Since your death, I feel like a part of me has also died. I will not allow your death to embitter me because you would hate that. You would tell me to take some time and then carry on. You would tell me to paint, write, reach out to others, and to try to make a difference while I am here. That is what you did. You loved and lived well. You had the eye of an artist, the stamina of an athlete and the heart and gusto of a quiet hero. Rest well my son.
Posted by Elizabeth Park on September 29, 2020
I met Zach in Digital Art 1 at SMCC's Brunswick campus. We both struggled in that class, and we'd laugh together when we were lost, and we'd share ways out of the forest, too. We ended up in several other classes together over the years. He was serious about developing his skills and making a go of it in photography and design. I was looking forward to seeing what he would do next. He was a decent man, a good guy, a mensch.
Posted by Samantha Farrell-Schmitt on September 25, 2020
Sending your whole family a giant long hug.. you are all in our thoughts and hearts. We did not get to meet your lovely Zach but know he must have been a joy and light in your lives and an amazing human being coming from such very lovely parents.
Much love
Samantha John, Julian, Catherine, Gabriel, and Henry Schmitt
Posted by Gary Harder on September 24, 2020
In reading all the tributes here and the posts on Face Book I was really struck by how much people loved Zach. Each showed him in a different light. And it is those images that I carry around with me that I'll always remember - of a smiling guy lighting up our world. He surely loved his neighbor as himself, and in that way experienced God's love. This brings his Mom and me great comfort, and his remembrances bring us great joy. 
Posted by Linda Smith on September 24, 2020
I was so honored when Zach invited me to follow his Facebook page, "Zachary Harder Photograpy." I just spent more time there this morning, viewing his stunning shots. The mountian top views, taken not long before he passed, really speak to me. They are heartrendingly beautiful. It's as if he opened a window to Heaven for me. Thank you, Zach.
Posted by Kalie Hess on September 24, 2020
I had the honor of getting to know Zach during his time in Augusta. I met him and Kirsten through our shared passion for biking, walking, and making sure everyone can safely do so. He was giving, kind, funny, and an easy and pleasant person to be around. He helped us so much to get our volunteer bike/ped group off the ground. We benefited from his creativity and his willingness to participate, share, and give. I am so grateful to have gotten to know Zach, and wish I could have gotten to know him more. He had a gentle soul and a way about him that put people at ease and made them feel comfortable. We were all better off having known him, and he will live on in all of us. I'm sending all my love to Kirsten and the rest of his family.
Posted by Laura King on September 24, 2020
I loved this boy named Zach, slight of frame, sitting quietly in my third grade classroom. I can still remember his handwritng on the page; it wasn’t always pretty, mind you - but Zach’s words were laced together into little poems, little pieces of the sky and woods. He was a quiet boy in the classroom, but he was so observant of the little things others would pass by. I remember his artwork...a little cat he drew once, lightly drawn with a somewhat unsteady hand, but successfully capturing the slink of a cat. I also remember he always had something in his pocket from outdoors - a small stone, usually, or a piece of wood worn smooth he had found outside at recess. And, I remember the mop of hair, always a little mussed. I cherish knowing he is part of a special family that honors his lasting, unique spirit. He made his way in life with originality, as seen in so many memories posted. My heart hurts tonight - aches for the mother and dear friend, father, siblings, and partner; but the strength shown here, the strength of love and admiration for this young man, does lift spirits. “ Matter doesn't disappear, it transforms. Energy is the same way. The Earth is layer upon layer of all that has existed, remembered by the dirt.”
― Adrienne Maree Brown, Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds.
Posted by Billy Bob Faulkingham on September 23, 2020
I’m deeply saddened by your loss. I had the pleasure of working with Zach as a member of the Marine Resources Committee. He was a great kid who always had a smile on his face. He was always pleasant and very relaxed. I understand what it’s like losing someone this young, and there are literally no words. I’m praying that you all an find comfort in this impossible time.
Posted by Judith Holler on September 23, 2020
There are so many things I want to say about Zach. I don't think I knew him but for a trip or two to the library?? I know the total loss you are feeling as I lost my son Wesley a year ago June. These two were so loved by their families. I find some comfort in the belief that they would want us to go on with them in our hearts. Life flips and you learn to live in the new life with courage and LOVE!!
Posted by Geoff Gratwick on September 23, 2020
There is now a void, an immense empty space, where there was once a broad smile. I am so very sad for you, for us all. Ask not for whom the bell is tolling.....We feel its deep vibrations.
Posted by Paulina K on September 22, 2020
My favorite memory of Zach is from 2014. We were in France for the celebration of Celestine’s baptism. Following the baptism ceremony, Hugo’s grandmother hosted a luncheon for the family and close friends. Chris and I were sharing the “cool” table with Zach and Caitlin and had an absolute blast. The luncheon lasted for quite a while and the time was filled with laughter, delicious food and sharing of fun stories. We compared notes on all the things we got to do during the trip, talked about everything we still wanted to see and do in France, and compared notes on travel in general and our favorite books. It was a such a special, happy day and I cherish this memory. Our thoughts and love are with Zach's family at this heartbreaking time.
Posted by Jayne Deneen on September 22, 2020
Just learning of Zach's death from legislative friends and I am speechless. In my years of clerking for the legislature, he was one of the special ones. I look at this picture and remember how very excited he was to be included on the IF&W trip to see those cubs. He returned from that trip with such a sense of joy. How many times during our few short months working together did I think how lucky we were to have him among us? My heart breaks for those he has left behind. He was one of a kind, I truly loved this incredible young man, and I am honored that he considered me a friend. He will not be forgotten.
Posted by Maryalice Crofton on September 22, 2020
We searched a long time for the right team mate here at Volunteer Maine and the universe sent Zach our way. He hadn't been with us long enough to let all the humor show, but it was evident in his eyes. He connected with each person effortlessly and that is the exact reason his passing leaves such a hole here. To his parents and siblings and Kirsten, we send our support and condolences.
Posted by Alison Stevenson on September 22, 2020
Sweetness is the first word that comes to mind whenever I think of Zach. He was such a welcome presence here at Midcoast Conservancy, always "up" for whatever we needed, and such a gift to our photo library (once he revealed his previously unheralded creative talents!). His ready smile, his thoughtful contributions to conversations and his gentle demeanor will stay with me. My heart aches for his family and for his beloved Kirsten. With gratitude for a very special, if all too brief, life on this earth that he worked so hard to protect.
Posted by Dave Miramant on September 22, 2020
All of us who worked with Zach here in the Maine legislature share your sadness. He was our committee clerk in Marine Resources and kept everything moving smoothly....in spite of the collection of characters. I enjoyed our time together when the room was empty and we could talk about the limitless possibilities that life presented. I offered to take him soaring in my glider and he brightened at the possibility. Unfortunately, the universe had other plans so I will remember him fondly and share your sorrow at his passing.
Posted by Shri Verrill on September 21, 2020
I am stunned by this news and my heart goes out to those who he left behind. Our last conversation held such promise as he moved from Midcoast Conservancy tobecome a clerk in Augusta. You all have my heartfelt condolences.
Posted by Anna Fiedler on September 21, 2020
I had the privilege of working with Zach while he was an intern with Midcoast Conservancy in 2019. I was so impressed by how quickly he picked up on new skills, and how hungry he was to learn more.
We shared mutual respect for each other's strengths. His design skills and photography skills were inspiring, and it was a pleasure to mentor him in a couple of things I knew a bit more about than he - data management and working with volunteers in sticky situations - and watch him grow in those areas, too.
He will be missed. My heart especially goes out to Kirsten and all Zach's family.
Posted by Streeter Elliott on September 21, 2020
I just met Zach a few weeks ago when I started working at Volunteer Maine. He was one of the reasons I felt so comfortable and was excited to work in this office. I could tell that given some more time, I would soon not only have a co-worker but a great new friend. He entertained all the times I would distract him from his work, trying to get to know him better, and I'm incredibly grateful for those moments. Thanks for being open to me Zach, rest in peace.
Posted by Sara Nieuwoudt on September 20, 2020
I remember Zach as the youngest of a brood of wildly creative kids I used to babysit in Vermont. He acted as the "lure" to get me to crawl out onto their house roof, only to have him scramble back in a window so that his siblings could try to lock me out there. I remember the sparkle in his eyes and his laugh.

Years later I would catch up with his mother and hear updates about Zach and his siblings on walks in the same woods of our shared childhoods. I am not surprised that he took up photography nor that he retained his great love of nature into his adulthood. That he died doing what he loved is a small consolation for a light extinguished too soon. I am grateful for our lives having touched and my heart is heavy for all those mourning his unexpected departure.
Posted by Linda Smith on September 20, 2020
Zach was a wonderful friend to my 3 boys. They loved having him live so nearby and spent many a summer day trading baseball cards, fishing, running through the woods together, and all-around adventuring. Zach and Will were especially intent upon finding treasure and would dig hopeful holes everywhere.  Zach, in particular, had a knack for this and would unearth antique glass bottles as we looked on in amazement.  Every so often, you meet someone who emanates a very special energy. Someone who you know has a heart of gold. Zach was that person. May his love for life, the pure love that existed within him, eternally shine. 
Posted by Jessi Curavoo on September 20, 2020
Zach John!!!!! My heart is broken at the thought of never seeing your huge smile again. Some of my best Memories have been with you. You are the most genuine, kind hearted, hilarious man I've ever had the pleasure of knowing. This world truly won't be the same without you. I love you so much and I wish I told you that more.
Posted by Miriam Mallalieu on September 20, 2020
Zach was someone to whom I was instantly drawn. He radiated a kind gentleness and humour, and despite only knowing him a few weeks, I have thought of him often over the years since.
I think that sometimes people don’t realise the effect that they have on others, but Zach was enriching, even to those on the very periphery of his life.
Posted by Hugo Disant on September 20, 2020
Thinking about Zack remind me the first time we met: He was 14, and I was dating his older sister: he dragged me playing basketball 30 min after we met. That was the thing with him; he was inclusive and craving for action. Like this time in Portugal when we took a kiteboarding lesson or when we escaped a family reunion after Célestine's baptism to go snowboarding in the Alps: he was so happy to be in Nature experiencing new things. When we learned we could not visit the USA last summer because of Covid; I explained to Célestine that it was best to come to Vermont during the winter to show her uncle how much she improved her skiing. He would have loved to see that; it is heartbreaking to see him leaving so soon

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Recent Tributes
Posted by Gary Harder on October 8, 2020
Zachary was and is such a joyous presence to his family. To commemorate his spirit we will be planting a quaking aspen in our yard next spring. The aspen is a symbol of ongoing life and resurrection. Leigh and I ran into a whole grove of them on a hike today in the Moosalamoo area on Widow's Clearing Trail. Please see the video I posted in the video section of this website.
Posted by Anh Ducharme on October 6, 2020
My dear friend Kirsten asked me to pick up some guy so he could join us on vacation. . I thought I had a long car ride ahead, but it went by so quickly. I still remember him saying “Kirsten’s never seen me without facial hair... “ Aww you look good, Zach, but I had never seen him with facial hair. But it was/is what’s inside that matters. :) Such a dear sweet guy, true and valiant. I still have to catch my breath when I contemplate the loss. But our loss was truly our gain. ❤️
Posted by Angela King on October 3, 2020
I only met and spoke with Zach once, enough to know that he was a caring, community-minded person. We walked in Augusta with Kirsten and pets to identify areas to improve for bike/ped. To all his loved ones, I am so sorry for your loss. This quote comes to mind: "Unable are the loved to die, for love is immortality." – Emily Dickinson
Recent stories
Shared by Allison Disant on October 22, 2020
I’ve called Zach “Ez” for as long as I can remember. I’m not sure how it started. It’s strange how that now seems important and I find myself wishing I could ask him if he remembers. I have this vague idea (but may be rewriting history) that I once tried to convince him that his real name was Ezekiel. It wasn’t working and I quickly jumped over to Zachariah for the joke - but not the nickname. The Zachariah part definitely happened, by the way! In any event, he was Ez.

Fast forward many years and Zach also became Uncle Zach, to my kids. Célestine was born first and naming her involved many, MANY discussions. With the seriousness of a first time mother, I was adamant that her name was beautiful and her name was Célestine. No shortening. 

Uncle Zach wasn’t having it. Maybe it was partly to get back at me (!), but he started calling her Cele. It was always said with a giant grin and dancing, what are you going to do about it, eyes. Felix was born a few years later, and naturally he needed a nickname too. “FeFe,” Uncle Zach proclaimed. Nobody else could have gotten away with that - only my baby brother! He knew it, of course, and I’m sure that was part of the fun.

I don’t live in the US and when I first told Zach I was pregnant with Célestine (after congratulating me), he asked, “How’s your kid ever gonna be awesome if they don’t have [their] uncle around?” Well, he was an awesome uncle. I wish my kids had longer with him. I wish I had longer with him. And I wish I had been able to see him with kids of his own. 

Gifts

Shared by Caitlin Harder on September 27, 2020
In the human world— while lying in bed at night, or sitting at the computer, poring over photographs and past conversations—  the loss of Zach is a visceral thing. I feel it as a relentless weight on my shoulders; panic like an animal’s; an uncontainable wail threatening to emerge from somewhere deep within. The loss of Zach— in the human world— feels like an unfathomable absence.

And so I go outside. I walk the same path that we walked together countless times throughout our lives, as family and as individuals: past our parents’ garden, the chicken house and the barn, across the long sloped lawn, and into the woods. The leaves are starting to change all at once now. Crows caw freely up above, the afternoon sun has turned golden, and just like that, here he is.

Zach has appeared in so many forms in recent days. He appeared as a wave of comfort washing over me the moment I asked him for a sign, the morning after we received the news. Then later, in the perfectly formed sunbeams made visible by the smoke of our campfire, turning the clearing where a few of us had gathered into a natural cathedral— a living replica of one of Zach’s photographs. And again today, when the ancient leather shoe that he had unearthed during our childhood games appeared before me on the forest floor, the only form in sight that was not covered by leaves, though more than twenty years had passed.

Zach eagerly accepted all of the beauty and mystery that life has to offer, and he gave back with the same eagerness. Those who knew him experienced these gifts in the form of his playfulness, humor, intelligence, curiosity, love, and deep kindness— and in his honest vision as an artist. Some of the words that Zach offered us over the years seem almost prescient, taken in this week’s new light. “I’m water now, slipping through the cloud. I am rain falling,” he wrote more than ten years ago, “I slow to the pace of walking and it’s snowing. And I’m powder and I’m floating.” This summer, he wrote, “I still walk in the woods, in the rain, through the fog, and when the snow’s falling. I walk in nature, near the ocean, and in the mountains. My imagination is still at play thinking of a journey, contemplating history, and curious to the ever-changing ecosystem.”

As we mourn his unimaginable absence in the human world, I think of those words as Zach’s parting gift: a reminder of his timeless, expansive, and vivid presence in the wild and beautiful  places all around us, waiting to be explored.

Little Wiggie Wombat

Shared by Leigh Harder on September 23, 2020
Little Wiggie Wombat, wither shall I wander? Uptown, downtown, all around town!
Zachimo! Zachimo Joe!
Zee Jay
Zach John!
As I mother, the.se were my endearments for Zachary. He was my boy who was always full of play. Full of adventure. As I remember stories and adventures, some specific things come to mind. Some of these have become the stuff of legend, because I have shared them with countless children I have taught
At one point, all four of my children were enrolled in local schools - two in elementary, one in middle school, and I worked at a completely different local elementary school. No one wanted to take the school bus ever, so that meant carefully choreographed mornings. Lunches made? Check. Homework in backpacks? Check. Breakfast eaten? Check. Brush hair, brush teeth? Check-check. And then, okay, let's GO! 
I made the great mistake of letting Zach get toy handcuffs. They were cheap little aluminum ones from Ben Franklin (a local store), with a key to unlock them. Well, one morning as four children and one mother were madly scurrying about, Zach got the idea that it would be fun to lock himself to his bed rails with his handcuffs! (???)
We were all set to go and I called for him, "Zach! Come on let's go!)
"Uhhh, Mom....I need a little help..."
I ran upstairs to his room to see that he had, really and truly, locked himself to his bed. And no one knew where the key was!
After mad scurrying, I decided to fiddle with a large paperclip to try to jostle the lock. No luck. We scavenged the house and finally found the key. I was late for work and each child was late for school.
Multiple calls and tardy notes later, Zachary safely freed from the bed, we headed out the door.
Zach and his siblings were sometimes hard work to parent, but the greatest joy of my life. 
He was a little boy who made me laugh with his playfulness. He made me smile with his gentleness (bedtime stories and cuddles).
He grew into a teenager I prayed for every night. Wild and wooly. Ready to box and imbibe and drive way too fast.
He then became a man, wise and gentle. Filled with love for others and a mission in life. A man with a heart and sense of justice for others and the environment. He was an artist, an athlete, a son, a lover and always an adventurer.
I am not quite sure how to go on now. I am hoping, from wherever he is now, that he will show me the way.
Zachary, I will always love you and it will not be in the past tense.Thank you for letting me be your mother.