Bill Harris, 95, died at his home in Midland, Ore., on May 23, 2012, with his children by his side. He was born June 15, 1916 in Prairie Center, Calif., to Albert Asbury Harris and Harriett Barclay Harris.
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Prior to WWII, it was Seaman Harris. During the war it was Lt., 1st Lt., Capt., Maj. and Lt. Col. Harris. After the war, it was just plain Bill. Bill joined the Navy in 1936 and served aboard the USS Houston, a heavy cruiser until 1940, when his enlistment expired and he was honorably discharged. He went into the logging and trucking business, Harris Bros. Lumber Co. Springville, Calif., with his brother Malcom and a Navy friend Bron Barrett until Pearl Harbor was attacked in 1941.
In January 1942, Bill joined the U.S. Army Air Corps and was accepted for flight training. He graduated and was commissioned as a 2nd Lt. on Oct. 30, 1942. He completed final flight training in the new Lockheed P-38 fighter aircraft. Bill arrived at New Caledonia in February 1943 and was posted to the 339th Fighter Squadron. He flew his combat mission on February 18 from Guadalcanal. By August 1945, when the war ended, Bill was a lieutenant colonel and a group commander. Although offered a full colonelcy, he declined and returned joyfully to California and resumed his beloved enterprises.
Bill married Rosalyn Grant in 1946 and after spending several years logging, he spent the rest of his life cattle ranching in California, Nevada and Oregon. He was a humble man and his heroic accomplishments were not most important to him. Being a devout Christian, teaching by living, in his own quiet way about honesty, integrity, hard work, a can-do spirit, patience, happiness, raising two sons and three daughters, and always having room at the table for more was the pattern of his life.
Rosalyn was his lifetime joy and companion. His wife of 60 years, Rosalyn Grant Harris and his son Alan Joseph Harris preceded Bill in death. He is survived by his son Garn (Jim) of Independence, Calif., his daughters, Patty (Tom) Tompkins of Red Bluff, Calif., Marylou (Keith) Hansen of Porterville, Calif., and Dianne (Perry) Fields of Macdoel, Calif., 13 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.
A military service will be held Saturday, June 16, 2012, at noon at Veterans Memorial Park near Lake Ewauna off Klamath Avenue in Klamath Falls, Ore. A memorial service will follow at 2 p.m. the same day at Bible Baptist Church, 4849 S. Sixth St. Klamath Falls, Ore., 97603.
In lieu of flowers, family and friends are encouraged to make donations to a charity that Bill supported: either Klamath Falls Gospel Mission, P.O. Box 87, Klamath Falls, OR 97601 or Klamath-Lake Counties Food Bank, 3231 Maywood Drive, Klamath Falls, OR 97603 or favorite charity. Davenport's Chapel of the Good Shepherd, 541-883-3458, is in charge of arrangements.
Davenport's Chapel of the Good Shepherd
2680 Memorial Drive
Klamath Falls, OR 97601
Published in Herald And News on June 10, 2012