WEST COVINA - As the eldest of five children raised during the Great Depression, Harold Edward Blackard learned the value of hard work and responsibility at a young age.
While his father worked in the orange groves of Covina, Blackard helped watch over his younger siblings and dropped out of Covina High School his sophomore year to help his family financially.
The longtime West Covina resident died Nov. 19 at the age of 86.
"He was a very hard worker," Blackard's daughter Carolyn Lee said. "He was always there for us."
Blackard's work ethic translated into success later in life. At 21 years old, he opened a small gas station on Citrus Avenue and San Bernadino Road.
A couple of years later, he built Blackard's Super Service, which included a towing service.
Through his business, Blackard worked with several local police and fire departments, clearing vehicles involved from traffic accidents from the roads.
His family said he was always willing to help the community, even towing vehicles for people who didn't have the money to pay for the services.
"People couldn't really believe that anybody still did business like that," Blackard's grandson Kevin Lee said.
Carolyn Lee said many people didn't skip out on the bill either.
"Most people returned," she said. "He always was really positive about people and never thought anything negative about anybody."
But Blackard wasn't all work and no play. The father of three loved to water ski at the family home in Parker, Ariz.
He spread his love of the hobby to his family and friends as well.
"Daddy taught everybody how to water ski all day long," Carolyn Lee said. "He never cared how long he stayed out there."
Born Nov. 25, 1922 in Arkansas, Blackard moved to California when he was about 12 years old.
He met his wife during a Halloween party in Glendora and the two married in Las Vegas in 1942.
They later designed and built their own home in West Covina.
"He is going to be really missed by a lot of people," Carolyn Lee said. "By family, friends and everybody. He really was a very positive person."
Blackard is survived by his wife Gladys, daughters Carolyn, Bonnie and Debbie, six grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.