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John Harley

Roster Info

Season Class # Pos Ht Wt
1943 6-3
1944 T 6-3

Personal Info

First Name: John
Middle Name: Thomas
Last Name: Harley, Jr.
Common Name:
Nickname: Big John
High School:
Birth Date/Place: July 5, 1925
Death Date/Place: May 27, 2022 (age 96)
Related To: John, Sr. (father)

John T. Harley, Jr., passed away surrounded by his family on May 27, 2022, at the age of 96.

Loving father of Jan Harley (Al Avram), Colleen Holmes (Mark), the late Bryan Harley and the late Jennifer Harley. Caring grandfather of Moriah Fair (George), Austin Harley (Maria), Cheyenne Harley, Nicole Ver Kuilen (Natalie Harold), and Elizabeth Holmes. Cherished great grandfather of Olivia, John T. Harley III, Evelina, Maliya, and Asher. He is also survived by cousins Carol Stewart (Tom), Shelley Lanser (Bill), and nephew Warren Lewis. He was preceded in death by his wife of 59 years, Billie Colleen Harley, and his parents Mary Elizabeth and John T. Harley, Sr.

John T.'s nickname was Big John because he was such a big guy in stature, 6'3", and he had a big heart. As a young man growing up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, he engineered a trailer to carry his accordion to/from lessons, to school and friend's houses. He had a horse named Pat. As a Boy Scout at the age of 14, he rescued the lives of two young children who fell into the river, one of his greatest accomplishments. He attended Oklahoma University, as did his father and mother, his college football career was impressive, achieving Big Six Champs status. He joined OU's Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity and graduated with honors in Mechanical Engineering.

After voluntarily enlisting in the US Navy and following basic training, John was advanced to officer's training due to his extensive college studies and high marks. With the needs of a nation at war becoming ever greater (WWII), Mr. Harley was rapidly propelled through training and assigned to AP-126 Attack Transport, the USS Admiral Hugh Rodman, stationed in the South Pacific. It was not long after the end of the war when John invited Billie Kirby as a blind date onto the Rodman for dinner in the Navy Officers Club. It was love at first sight and they married a short 6 months later, on October 27, 1946. After living in Oklahoma and Texas working for the oil and gas industry, John moved his family of 4 children to Marshalltown, IA, to work for Fisher Controls Company. He continued his Fisher service in Michigan as the Fisher sales agent, establishing the John T. Harley Company/Farmington Hills. He founded a heating/cooling company, Control Pak, of which he sold in later years.

John was a role model to friends and family alike with a core character of the highest integrity, strong faith and exceptional love for his family. Being a proud Oklahoman, he would often say, "Everything will be okay, just say OKLAHOMA!"

The family will hold a memorial service on Saturday, June 25, 2022 at 11am at Bellaire Lakeview Cemetery / Mortenson's Funeral Home in Bellaire, Michigan.

Services will also be held on July 17, 2022 in Troy, Michigan. Please reach out to the family for details.

Memorial tributes can be made to GiGi's Playhouse Detroit, 1979 W 12 Mile Rd, Southfield, Michigan, 48076 and/or to Forrest Stump.

~Lovingly written by the family.


  • A (C) indicates that the player was a captain for that season (named before each game in 1982, 1995 through 1998, and 2022 to present).
  • Related To refers to other OU athletes only.
  • Calculations for career totals will be skewed if the season totals are incomplete.