Harry Lewis Harris, 86 of California, Missouri, passed away on Saturday, January 11, 2020 at the Harry S. Truman VA Medical Center in Columbia, Missouri. He had been a patient there in critical care since mid-December.
Harry was born in Clarksburg, Missouri on March 29, 1933, to Lewis and Florence (nee Bardwell) Harris. Nicknamed ‘Cotton’ because of his very blond hair, He attended and graduated from Clarksburg High School where he excelled in basketball.
After high school, Harry joined the United States Air Force and was in the first wave for the Strategic Air Command (SAC). He was stationed at Shepard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas and assigned to the 380 refueling squadron and a member of the “boom” operations team aboard the KC-97 to refuel jets mid-flight.
While stationed in Wichita Falls, Texas, he met Nancy Jane Daily. They were married on September 1, 1956.
After returning to California following his discharge, Harry worked at the shoe factory in Tipton. He then secured a position with the California Democrat where he sold advertising and helped to create ad layout mock-ups for printing. One ad for the then new Ralston Purina turkey plant noting “We use everything except the gobble” earned him a governor’s award. Harry was well-known around the central Missouri area and was often seen and heard whistling as he walked all over from merchant to merchant in California, Tipton, Russellville, Bunceton, Jamestown, High Point as well as other parts of Moniteau, Miller, and neighboring counties.
Harry learned to take pictures for the paper, but soon demonstrated his unique ability to capture intricate details in his photos. His photography interest extended well beyond his newspaper years where he focused on flowers in the natural settings and landscape locations that fascinated him.
Harry helped to start the Junior Chamber of Commerce and remained active for several years. He also was very active in California Community Betterment.
Following his extensive time with the newspaper, Harry worked for nearly 40 years with Todd Hogge Ford in California as well as several years with Bennie Heinen Ford in Tipton. He won several Ford Motor Company awards as a top salesman in the western district and had hundreds of pictures of new and returning customers to whom he sold cars and trucks.
Harry loved golf and could often be seen on the golf course at the California Country Club. His love for big band music was only thing to outdo his love for golf. And, he never lost his interest in military aircraft.
Harry is survived by his wife of 63 years, a daughter, Cynthia Kay Small (Stephen) of Lexington, SC, a son, Harry Russell (Rusty) Harris of Springfield, MO, and a daughter, Caryn Sue Hopwood (Mark) of Ashland, MO, three grandsons, Eric Meyer of Ballwin, MO, Bryce Meyer of Nashville, Tennessee, and Grant Hopwood of Ashland, one granddaughter, Stephanie Small, St. Louis, MO, and three great-grandchildren, Luke Richard Meyer, Ballwin, Bailie Chamness Ballwin, and Devi Staudt, St. Louis. He also has numerous nieces and nephews from his two sisters.
Harry was preceded in death by an older brother Raymond, and two sisters, Bessie Comer of Newton, Iowa, and Martha Ruby of San Diego, California.
The family will hold a Celebration of Life service in the spring. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that individuals may wish to consider contributing to the United Methodist Church, California, MO, or the Mid-Missouri Honor Flight.