John Harlin, 86


Devoted husband, father and brother,

“Pappy” to granddaughters Abbi and Faith,

Country Banker, Professional Speaker,

Humorist and Impressionist 


John Harlin, 86, was born January 8, 1937, and Gainesville, MO was his home. His parents were Billye and Hugh Tan Harlin and he has a younger sister, Sherrill Hardcastle, living with her husband, Joe in Richland, MO.

John graduated from GHS in 1954, grew up and lived in Gainesville most of his life except for his time in college at MSU in Springfield, the United States Air Force and a few years in West Plains. His wife of 65+ years, is Linda Fleenor Harlin. They have one son, Chris Harlin, carrying on the family banking tradition as CEO of Century Bank of the Ozarks and Chairman of Legacy Bank and Trust. John was very pleased and proud of the many accomplishments of Chris as he moved Century Bank of the Ozarks into the future and helped lead and develop Legacy Bank and Trust into a multi-state institution.

Upon graduation from high school, John attended MSU in Springfield for 3 years, joined the Air Force for four years and then returned to MSU to finish his Bachelor’s Degree in Business while working at KY3 and later Channel 10. John’s return to Gainesville and his becoming a part of the family bank was in 1966 after living and working in banking in West Plains for 3 years.

While in the Air Force, John entered the Air Force Talent Contest and won the World-wide Contest in Comedy which launched his 30 plus years as a professional comedian, entertaining in the communities around Clinton Sherman Air Force Base as well as the Officer’s and NCO Clubs on the Base. After an honorable discharge, he was in demand as an entertainer at many venues around the United States as an After-dinner Speaker and Key-Note Speaker for Chambers of Commerce, business conventions, seminars etc. He pursued his hobby of writing and performing humorous material for more than thirty years.

When John was not on the road making people laugh with his comedic skills, he was acting the part of the country banker as president of Century Bank of the Ozarks. He was the past Chairman of the Missouri Bankers Association in 1994 as was his father, Hugh Tan in 1963, and his son, Chris in 2012. Other banking accomplishments were: being a member of the 50-year Club, receiving the Missouri Bankers Chairman’s Award in 2008 as well as being on several Missouri and American Bankers Association committees.

Likewise, John had a longtime association with his alma mater by serving as a member of the MSU Springfield Foundation Board of Directors, the MSU West Plains Foundation Board, member of the Founder’s Club, and was honored as an MSU Outstanding Alumni.

Other accomplishments and services to his community include President of the West Plains Chamber of Commerce, Gainesville Chamber President, White River Valley Electric Board Vice President, Gainesville Lions Club President and member for 57 years, Gainesville Cemetery Board, Gainesville Park Board and instrumental in getting the grant in order to have a city park, fund raising for the Gainesville Cemetery and DOW Camp, MC for the Lions’ Club Auction, Hootin an Hollarin Committee, MC for the festival as well as the Queen Pageant and many other events for 40 plus years since its beginning. He and Linda were selected Parade Marshals of the Hootin an Hollarin Parade in 2016 and Lions Club Citizens of the Year in 1997.

John loved his bank, his community, his God and demonstrated that love throughout his life. To quote John on his philosophy about banking, he said “As an organization, we feel very strongly that putting something back into our communities is not an option, it is a requirement.”

Being “Pappy” to granddaughters Abbi Harlin Martin and Faith Harlin was the highlights of his life and Linda’s as was their son, Chris and daughter-in-law Missy. John’s love and devotion to family was unparalleled. He was a fine example to all who knew him as were his parents, Billye and Hugh Harlin.

John and wife, Linda, were devoted to one another and enjoyed many wonderful adventures in their many travels. Their love for the music of the Great American Songbook and those who sang and performed those songs was also one of their great joys in life. Golf and the St. Louis Cardinals were two of his favorite pastimes besides bringing laughter into people’s lives as he entertained them with his great comedic ability as a professional comedian. Linda says there are not enough adjectives to describe John, but a few are: loving, kind, honest, compassionate, patient, generous, funny, talented, and religious (a life-long member of the First Christian Church in Gainesville).

John’s philosophy of life is his quote from the song, “The Way We Were” as he would speak it in his Walter Brennen voice: “It’s the laughter we remember, whenever we remember the way we were.”

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be given to the Ozark County Library, Ozark County Toy Drive, Hootin an Hollarin, Gainesville Lions Club, or Gainesville Cemetery. Checks may be made out to any one of these suggestions and mailed to Century Bank of the Ozarks, PO Box 68, Gainesville, MO 65655 or Clinkingbeard Funeral Home, PO Box 65, Gainesville, MO 65655.

Private family burial with full military honors will be held Saturday, March 25, 2023. The Celebration of John’s life will be held at the First Christian Church, Highway 160, in Gainesville on Sunday, March 26, 2023 at 2:30 p.m., for all friends and family. Those wishing to pay their respects to John can do so Friday, March 24th from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Clinkingbeard Funeral Home, Gainesville, MO.


Printed as submitted by the family.

Ozark County Times

504 Third Steet
PO Box 188
Gainesville, MO 65655

Phone: (417) 679-4641
Fax: (417) 679-3423