Florence ‘Pearl’ Harwood
Florence “Pearl” Harwood died and went to be with the Lord on Feb. 13, 2018, in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Pearl was born on the Stadig family farm near Baker, N.D., in Isabell Township, on Nov. 25, 1920, to John A. Stadig and Florence M. (Smith) Stadig. Pearl graduated from Isabell High School and married John W. Harwood on Nov. 19, 1939, in Devils Lake, N.D.
Pearl was a noted jazz pianist in the Inland Northwest, working with many exceptional jazz musicians in many bands at clubs, art exhibits, anniversaries, reunions, parties and various other gigs. She worked into her 90s with the All That Jazz Group.
Pearl began playing piano at about three years of age, when her mother put her up to the piano in a highchair to get her out of the way while she did housework and cooked on the farm. God had given Pearl a special talent and she soon began playing tunes by ear as she became acquainted with the keyboard. At the age of about eight or nine she found a beginner’s piano book and taught herself some fundamentals on sight reading and chords — the only musical education she ever had. Throughout her playing life she picked up many other musical talents and ideas from musicians she worked with and at jam sessions. Her first professional job was when she was 14, when she was hired along with her older brother on trumpet for a Sons of Norway job. Her brother, as trumpet-man and sister-protector, was a condition made by her mother before she could head out with a bunch of musicians on her first gig.
Pearl and John, a sax and clarinet man, played jobs in the Devils Lake area until World War II sent John to war in the European Theater. Pearl worked in a traveling band and saved and John sent money for them to buy their first home in Devils Lake, where their two sons, Terry and Jon, were born after the war. In 1952, at the suggestion of John’s brother, the family decided a change of scenery was needed and they moved to Coeur d’Alene. John immediately went to work for the Idaho Transportation Department during the week while playing musical gigs on the weekends, and Pearl made the rounds of the local joints, sitting in so that the local musicians got to know her. Very soon she was hired by local groups and her Spokane and Coeur d’Alene career was off and running.
Pearl was a homemaker during the day and then transformed herself into an entertainer in late afternoon and played musical jobs till one o’clock in the morning, four to seven nights per week; from slacks and work clothes to evening gowns. John and Pearl were very active in their church, singing in the choir, with Pearl writing musical presentations for various church groups. One issue with her Christian compositions was that they may not sound exactly like traditional church music because of the modern chords she used. Her music has not been silenced because we have her work on sheet music, tape and CD, thank God!
Pearl’s parents and her two brothers and sister have passed, and John died in 1996, so she was the last of her generation in the family. She is survived by her sons and their wives, Terry and Marilyn of Athol, Idaho, and Jon and Karen of Hayden, Idaho; five grandchildren; six great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild.
Pearl’s memorial service will be at 10:30 a.m., Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018, at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church on Fifth and Wallace in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. The Harwood family suggests memorial contributions to given the church.
English Funeral Chapel, Coeur d’Alene, is entrusted with Pearl’s care and arrangements.