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Clifford J. Harris Jr.

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Clifford J. Harris Jr. Obituary
Harris, Clifford J. Jr. MD
Clifford John Harris, Jr., M.D., beloved husband, father, grandfather, physician, and community leader died December 17, 2013 in the arms of his family in Mesa, Arizona. He was 85. Dr. Harris grew up in Chicago, the son of Clifford John Sr. and Rita Acker Harris; he had one sister, Dale. He met his wife Carol May Katt at Presbyterian Hospital where he studied medicine and she studied nursing. He graduated from University of Illinois Medical School in 1954, and then completed four years of training in Internal Medicine and Hematology. Dr. Harris was boarded in 4 areas of medicine: Internal Medicine, Hematology, Oncology, and later Physician Executives. After his residency, Cliff and Carol lived in Izmir, Turkey with their three children, where he served two years in the U.S. Air Force. Their young family ventured into surrounding countries to explore history and culture. They moved to Mesa in 1961, where Dr. Harris established a private practice, caring for many grateful patients. In 1968, with the idea of having patients paying to stay well, he cofounded ABC HMO, which was the first HMO in Arizona and later became part of CIGNA Healthcare of Arizona. His innovation and leadership is honored by the dedication of the Tempe CIGNA facility, which bears his name. Dr. Harris cared for his community's health by volunteering weekly at Maricopa County hospital and serving on numerous hospital boards and local boards such as Mesa United Way and East Valley Cultural Alliance. He was recognized as Mesa Man of the Year in 1992. In his retirement, he worked tirelessly to make Mesa and the state of Arizona smoke free in public places. Congruent with a life dedicated to science, medicine, and health he participated in numerous clinical trials throughout his life, including the aspirin/Vitamin A study. Dr. Harris had Alzheimer's disease which he and Carol faced head on by participating in research studies at Banner Alzheimer's Institute. As his final contribution, he donated his remains to further the research of Alzheimer's disease. Dr. Harris is survived by his loving family: wife, Carol Katt Harris FNP; children: Clifford W. Harris JD MBA, Coralee H. McKay MD, Kathleen Katt MD, Kenneth Harris MBA, Kurtis Harris PE, Carolyn Harris MA, Kevin Harris JD, and Kristeen Harris MEd; in-laws: Barbara, Cindy, Julie Harris, and Vicente Abril; and 11 grandchildren: Andrea MSc, Clifton, Alexander, Trevor, Brandon, Carter and Abel Harris, Justin and Carlee McKay, and Wesley and Tara Bratt. Funeral services will be held at 10:30 A.M. on Saturday, January 18, 2014 at Grace United Methodist Church, 2024 East University Drive, Mesa, AZ 85213. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to: Alzheimer's Foundation of America (www.alzfdn.org), Oakwood Creative Care (www.oakwoodcrativecare.org), Hospice (www.hospicenet.org) or United Way. www.give.liveunited.org).

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Published in The Arizona Republic on Jan. 5, 2014
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