Harrell Eugene Harris, 89, of Madill, Oklahoma passed away Thursday, January 2, 2020 at the VA Center in Ardmore, Okla. He was born on July 12, 1930 in Lebanon, Okla. to the late Elmer John Harris and Allie Gladys Altum Harris.
Raised in Madill, Harrell was a member of the Madill High School class of 1948. He briefly worked as a roughneck before joining the United States Army. He completed basic training at Fort Leonard Wood Mo. and served in Germany with an artillery unit during the Korean Conflict until an eye injury ended his active duty service. Cpl. Harris was Honorably Discharged from the Army after being hospitalized at Brook Army Hospital at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas for 13 months. He loved to tell the story of how he was selected to be a typist with the artillery unit and how grateful he was for the good fortune of being taught by the legendary typing teacher, Madill’s own Blanche Jewell.
Upon completion of Oklahoma City University’s Television & Radio Service Engineering program under Mr. E. J. Snyder in 1955, he moved back to Madill and owned and operated Harrell’s TV and Radio Shack. The business continued to operate as a family business until 1999. Summer vacations for the family to America’s West were high on the list of things that made it worthwhile to go to work every day for Harrell. Upon his retirement in 1992, he fulfilled a lifetime dream of living off the grid in Colorado at an elevation of 9100’ until his health demanded that he leave his mountain cabin for lower elevations.
Harrell taught evening classes in Television Repair at Southern Oklahoma Area VoTech and studied gunsmithing at Murray State College.
He loved music and as a teenager played guitar with Woodrow Young and friends at country dances around the Marshall County area. As a young adult, he kept his guitar handy to play occasionally at home and always had the classic country artists playing on the stereo at home on the weekends. In later years he learned to play banjo after he received one as a Father’s Day gift.
Family outings to Lake Texoma on the weekends and holidays were a way of life for the Harris family. He had a small boat in the early 1960s that was just barely able to pull skiers, and only because everyone was very young and fit. Over the years, the boats got upgraded as the family grew in number as well as the weight that came with maturity. There are countless stories of pushing cars, boats and trailers through the sand at Enos to get to Sandy Beach for the weekend.
In later years, he treasured the memories of the countless days he spent hunting and fishing around Sacra’s Pond and Randolph Bottom with Junior Honea as a youngster.
In his last years, he found extraordinary contentment in studying history and never lost his lifelong love for reading. He spent many hours doing genealogical research and tracking down old family stories. Sometimes they didn’t always end up the way it seemed they would, such as when he discovered that his great grandfather was a Baptist Preacher who had participated in the Oklahoma Land Run, rather than an outlaw that had relocated to Indian Territory to escape justice in the civilized world, as the stories had implied. Some of those stories still haven’t been fully resolved and it remains unclear exactly how the family came to be acquainted with a cousin of the James Brothers.
He was a charter member of the Marshall County Genealogical Society and was a 32nd degree Mason with membership in the Creekmore Lodge, as well as a member of the United Methodist Church in Madill.
He is survived by his children: Eugene Harris and wife Laurie, of Madill; John Harris of Madill, and his children Andrea and Jonathan; and Janet Green of Durant and her children Chase, Ashley and her daughter Laiklyn, and Colten.
Harrell is also survived by his brother, Kenneth Harris of Madill, and two sisters in law, Leona Chlotee Armstrong and LaWanda Walker, as well as several nieces and nephews and their children, who all lovingly refer to Harrell as their Uncle Bo, a nickname given him by his dear Grandmother Tate, who he credits with teaching him with being able to read and write the names of everyone in his family before he started school.
Harrell was preceded in death by his parents; brother, Virgil Harris; sisters Juanita Rice and Virginia Brock and her children Nancy and Mark; and wife, Anita Bridges Harris.
Visitation will be Monday, January 6, 2020 at Watts Funeral Home, Madill, Oklahoma from 10:00 am to 5:00 p.m.
Services will be 10:00 a.m. Tuesday, January 7, 2020 at the Watts Memorial Chapel, Madill, Oklahoma. Matthew Benedick will officiate the service. Interment will be at the Oakland Cemetery, Oakland, Oklahoma. Services will be under the direction of Watts Funeral Home, Madill, Oklahoma. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial donations to Creekmore Masonic Lodge in Madill or Cross Timbers Hospice in Ardmore. Condolences may be sent to Watts Funeral Home
Pallbearers: The Harris Family
Honorary Pallbearers: Kenneth Baker, Jack Honea, Junior Honea, Jack Hargis, Billy Jack Robinson, Ivan Robinson, Tommy Jones, Charles Carter, Paul Truitt, Frank Limpek, Marchello Cavallo, B.H. Roach, Pryor Faulk, Gary Minor, Wade Reed, J.W. Hicks, Scat Vanderpool, Frank Armstrong, Bruner Rice, as well as Ducky Pratt, Marvin Harlan Bridges, Jodie Minter.
The family will be forever grateful to the staff of the Ardmore VA Center for the love and the incredible care they provided Harrell during his residence of about 4 years there, as well as to the folks with Cross Timbers Hospice for the love, care, and companionship they provided him, and the support for the family for almost a year. We absolutely couldn’t have made it without you. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!