Harry Raymond Rasmussen, Sr.|
December 22, 1924 - December 11, 2013
Resident of Aptos
Harry was a loving husband, devoted father, wonderful grandfather, and a good friend. He loved people and was happiest when surrounded by his family or friends. He lived his life by example: deeply caring for his family, working hard, honoring his word, and befriending everyone he met. To Harry there were no strangers, only friends he hadn't met yet. Harry's life was well lived.
He was born in Fresno, California on December 22, 1924. His parents, Hans and Anna Rasmussen, immigrated to the US from Denmark in the early 1900's and his father served in the US Army's Cavalry Division in WWI. Harry attended Fresno State College at the beginning of WWII and enlisted into the Army, serving in the Army Air Corps where he trained as a P-51 fighter pilot. After completing active duty, he continued as a reservist, earning the rank Lt. Colonel before retiring from the US Air Force in December 1984. While a reservist, Harry served as a Liaison Officer with the Air Force Academy and as President of the Silver Falcon Association from 1990 - 1991.
On June 22, 1946 Harry married the love of his life, Doris Peterson, and they enjoyed 67 years together, despite the fact that one was a Swede and one was a Dane! They met as youngsters and later rekindled their friendship in college. They loved to entertain, dance, golf, play bridge, and travel together. The couple raised three children, Marjorie Rasmussen of San Bruno, Harry Rasmussen Jr, a Santa Cruz dentist, and Janice Rasmussen LaVelle (David LaVelle) of San Jose. Harry was very active in the lives of his 7 grandchildren, Ryan, Kaeley, Stephanie, and Emily Rasmussen and Alison, Michael, and Brooke LaVelle. He was quick to share his wisdom and laughter with his grandkids and they loved him dearly.
In 1950 Harry went to work for the California State Automobile Association, where he enjoyed a successful career serving as the District Manager in Madera, Daly City, Stockton, Santa Cruz, and Capitola. A highlight of his career was being involved in the planning and opening of new district offices in Stockton and Capitola. Harry retired in 1990 after 40 years with the CSAA.
Harry was a born leader, a charitable man, and lifelong volunteer for many causes. He was a member of the Rotary Club for over 50 years. He served Rotary in many ways including: President of Daly City Rotary Club 1963-64; President of Stockton Rotary Club 1973-74; District Governor's Area Representative 1974-75. Harry joined the Santa Cruz Rotary Club on April 23, 1976. He served on the Santa Cruz Rotary Club Board of Directors 1980-82; and was a Paul Harris Fellow Plus 3. Other organizations Harry served include San Joaquin County United Crusade, President 1969-70, and Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce, Director 1970-74.
In early 1998 Harry underwent heart bypass surgery at Dominican Hospital, Santa Cruz. After recovering Harry was so moved by his treatment he received that he became active in the Mended Hearts Chapter #155 at the hospital. He served as President of the local Mended Hearts Chapter from 2006 to 2012. He spent many years visiting heart patients on Mondays, and sharing words of encouragement. He was the embodiment of the Mended Heart's slogan "It's great to be alive and to help others". In addition he served on the Dominican Hospital Foundation Board from 2007 to 2013.
Harry's lifelong commitment to his Lutheran faith was also a constant in his life. He and Doris were active members of Messiah Lutheran Church in Santa Cruz and later Christ Lutheran Church, Aptos. Sunday church services were often followed by a Bloody Mary and Harry's "Cowboy Breakfast", a tradition enjoyed by Harry and Doris and loved by their children and grandchildren.
Throughout his life Harry and Doris embraced the challenge of golf on courses all over California, Hawaii, Europe, and Scotland which included a round of golf at Old St. Andrews. An early shareholder at Pasatiempo Golf Club, he served 2 terms as President from 1983 to 1985. They enjoyed traveling and visited relatives in Denmark and Sweden often. They loved visiting new places and the challenges of new experiences. Other trips included China, Canada, Alaska, Europe, Caribbean, Mexico, South America, Australia, New Zealand and around the US. Annual trips to Palm Springs to see their "snow bird friends" and trips to Kahana Sunset in Maui, were their favorite vacations often accompanied by family, friends and especially grandkids!
A Memorial Celebration of Harry's life is planned for 12 Noon Saturday, December 28 at Messiah Lutheran Church, 801 High Street, Santa Cruz. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Harry's name to: Cardiac Care Unit, Dominican Hospital Foundation, 1555 Soquel Drive, Santa Cruz 95065 or to the Santa Cruz Rotary Club Foundation, P.O. Box 497, Santa Cruz, CA 95061 or a
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Published in San Jose Mercury News/San Mateo County Times on Dec. 22, 2013