Three communities mourn Redmond principal

John Hartford died Sunday in motorcycle crash

POSTED: 6:22 PM PDT September 24, 2012    UPDATED: 10:01 PM PDT September 24, 2012 
REDMOND, Ore. -

Two things took up most of John Hartford's life: his family and the students at Elton Gregory Middle School in Redmond.

"He was an awesome principal, but what one of his family members had shared with me is that a few years back, he said his job for his own family and his own children was to make good memories for them," Pastor Chris Blair said Monday.

Blair knew Hartford well through his time at the Powell Butte Christian Church.

"He was just really, really kind -- unfailingly. I mean, I don't think I ever saw him get upset at anyone," said Blair. "He's really going to be missed."

Hartford was set to begin a leadership role in the church this week. But that wasn't his only connection to Powell Butte.

"We have a little 'biker gang' at our church, and so John went out on rides with us before," said Blair.

But Friday night, Hartford was riding alone near Mitchell when tragedy struck. Witnesses saw Hartford's Yamaha roadster veered off Highway 26, slamming into a guardrail.

Police say the 54-year-old, who was wearing a helmet, was thrown from his motorcycle and died at the scene.

"It was very surprising to me, because John was an excellent rider, way better than me," said Blair.

The police report offered little insight into why Hartford lost control.

Blair says all he and those who knew Hartford can do is pray for his wife and two kids.

"I'm glad he lived his life the way he did," Blair said. "And I just look at him as somebody who -- I wish he could have been around longer, but I know without a doubt he had no regrets whatsoever."

A candlelight vigil was held at the Powell Butte Christian Church Monday evening for those who knew Hartford.

On Wednesday, a memorial service will be held in the auditorium at Ridgeview High School and everyone is invited. It starts at 6 p.m.