Bob Harte was an American trapper, hunter, fisherman and TV personality, born on 23 January 1951, in New Jersey USA. He was known for appearing in the reality TV show “The Last Alaskans” until his death in 2017.
Bob was Vernon and Eleanor Harte’s only son. Growing up in Jersey City, he played baseball and was fascinated by outdoors activities such as hunting and fishing, developing a sense of independence from an early age. In his youth, Bob’s grandfather was in charge of teaching him construction skills, which he utilized later in life.
There’s not much information about Bob’s education, though it’s known he attended college for a short time, dropping out when he chose the Alaskan lifestyle instead.
It’s known Bob was an avid motorcycle rider, experienced firearms holder and ‘plane pilot, though the exact time he learned those skills is uncertain.
It’s not certain when Bob became interested in the Alaskan lifestyle. However, his interest was certainly caught by books he read about it, leading him to move definitively to Southeast Alaska at 21 years of age. His first location was in a camping field near Wrangell, where he survived apparently trapping alone for a couple years.
Then he immersed himself into the north in Fort Yukon, setting his home in various places of the area. It was there that he became acquainted with various people with the same lifestyle, including one of his closest friends Heimo Kort, as he declared: ‘March of 1976 that’s when I first met Bob.
After I got into town there were seven of us trappers there, and we all loved hunting and trapping and so we had that in common’.
It’s suspected that during that time Bob met Nancy Becker, who would later become his wife.
Around 1977 and following an abandoned trap line, Bob found the place he would call home for the next 40 years in Brooks Range, an extension of the Rocky Mountains, mostly uninhabited. Harte set his own trap line in the area, exploring it and living off the land for decades.that
Mountain Cabin and Family
It’s uncertain exactly when Bob married Nancy Harte (neé Becker), though it’s known in 1984 they welcomed their first and only daughter, Talicia.
By this time Bob was settled in Brooks Range, the family lived separately and years passed until they finally moved in with him, along Nancy’s first son from a previous marriage named Steve.
Living with his family brought immense happiness to Bob, who recalled those times as his most precious memories: ‘Family is extremely important to me. I wouldn’t want to be somebody with nothing and I have something’.
In the early 1990s Bob Harte travelled to Russia, participating in a trappers exchange between US and the Eastern European countries. Especially proud of such an accomplishment, Harte trapped and hunted with Russian families with the intent to cut the cultural and political gap that had separated the two nations for decades.
Back in Alaska, Harte worked part time as a carpenter in Fairbanks. Unfortunately, his marriage with Nancy ended at a time undisclosed, but despite this his relationship with his daughter remained the same.
TV Debut – The Last Alaskans
Bob Harte’s debut in TV was in “The Last Alaskans”, a reality documentary series which premiered on 25 May 2015 on Animal Planet. The show is centered on various families living in diverse isolated areas of Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the biggest natural shelter in the US. Although human occupation in this protected area was banned in 1980 by Government, to protect its delicate eco-system, seven people were granted occupation permits to remain living there.
“The Last Alaskans” was well received by viewers, who were not only impressed bythe show’s production but also by its stars’ lifestyle and its portrayal, as Neil Genzlinger from The New York Times pointed out: ‘Unlike in other shows, here the quests for sustenance are presented merely as facts of life. The compelling part of the series is the why: why live like this? The answers vary, and though sometimes the subjects address the question directly, for the most part their reasons emerge only slowly, as the patient camera lets you get to know them.’
The show was renewed in 2016 for its second season, now to air on sibling network Discovery Channel. Bob Harte’s last appearance was in show’s third season, aired in 2017.
Talicia Harte suffered a car accident in 2006, leaving her disabled at 22 years old, and requiring extensive hours of physical therapy. Her father Bob, who loved her intensely, did his best to support her afterwards: ‘My daughter is a lot like me. She is a survivor. She’s tough as nails. Talicia was a very active young woman but then she had an accident. She became disabled from some guy talking on his cell phone, going broadside right into her. I’m 64 years old. I don’t know how many years I have left but I’d like to provide for my daughter’, he recalled in an episode of “The Last Alaskans”.
Although Talicia’s romantic life and marital status is unknown, in 2016 she gave birth to Bob’s only granddaughter Cornella. He promised to build a cabin for them to live comfortably.
Surviving by himself in an isolated place in Alaska, Bob Harte’s life was always at risk. However, even before committing his life to live in the wilderness, he defied death in various ways. Bob not only survived being run over on his motorcycle, and crashing his ‘plane twice, he was also lucky to live after shooting himself, and accidentally inundating his boat in freezing water.
His life was at stake again when he underwent brain surgery, and was diagnosed with cancer later in life. In each situation his friends and family’s joke about him having nine lives was proven true.
After spending an entire day celebrating his life with his loved ones, in Fairbanks on 21 July 2017, Bob Harte died peacefully in his sleep at 66 years of age, after battling with cancer for years.
In 2018 Bob’s daughter Talicia and her mom Nancy gave an interview to Monsters And Critics, guiding a tour through his cabin in the mountains while talking on their experience handling his death.
Nancy also offered a heartfelt reflection on his departure: ‘He established his home here and he loved it here. He and his dogs were here… he’s a part of this whole area. It’s not an ownership ‘his,’ he’s a part of it. He’s just a living entity with the land, with everything here. So it was his life. It was his joy, his delight and where he found peace and happiness was right here… it was Bob.’
Bob Harte’s estimated net worth was $600.000 at the time of his death, as a result of his appearances in TV series “The Last Alaskans”.
Bob Harte was a man of white ethnicity. He was slender built, had blond hair and green eyes. He was 5ft 9ins (1.75m) tall, and weighted 158lbs (72kg).
Bob Harte’s favorite place was a high rock near his cabin in the mountains, which he named “the throne”. He used to spend time there to admire the landscape in solitude.
In Bob’s obituary, his family compared his life to Frank Sinatra’s song “My Way”.
Bob loved his entire family and friends hugely, and was thankful of them at the time of his death.