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Richard Hayden Harris

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BRANCHVILLE - Richard Hayden Harris, 85, of Branchville, passed away peacefully on Friday, June 28, 2013, in his home with his family by his side, after a battle with multiple myeloma.

He was born at Franklin Hospital on May 2, 1928, to the late Jesse Ray and Grace Hayden Harris. The family moved to Branchville in 1930, where Richard completed grammar school. He graduated from Newton High School in 1946 and then Ursinus College in Collegeville, Pa., in 1950, earning a degree in business and economics.

He worked for the Harleysville Mutual Insurance Company in Harleysville, Pa., for several years until he returned to his hometown of Branchville to work at the Branchville Insurance Agency, which his father had purchased from DLB Smith. In addition, he worked at the Franklin Mutual Insurance Company, founded in 1879 in Franklin Township. On Jan. 1, 1953, he was appointed as a director of the company, and was actively employed later in 1953. He became executive vice president on Jan. 1, 1963, and then president on Feb. 6, 1974. He retired in 1994 as an active employee, but continued on as chairman of the board and chairman of the investment committee until the present time.

Richard also was involved in the Mutual Service Office, a fire insurance rating bureau, founded by his father.

He served on the Branchville Board of Education for 22 years, 20 of which as president. He also served on the Branchville Cemetery Association.

Richard was a member of the Baleville Congregational Christian Church, and served on the Board of Trustees for many years. He continued to act as a financial adviser for the church until his death. He was a Master Mason belonging to the Kittatinny Lodge Number 164 in Branchville. He also was a member the Lions Club and the Branchville Businessmen's Club.

Richard was not only known for his involvement in these local organizations, but for his many interests, such as hunting, fishing, trapping, gardening, lumbering, building stone walls - anything in the great outdoors. He also loved history, whether in old poetry or antiques.

He met his wife, Lesley Ann Freeman Orr, at her family summer home at Lake Owassa and married her March 29, 1959.

They were antique collectors and dealers with a small shop in Branchville for many years. His major love was in antique glass, old canning jars, and rare glass salt and pepper shakers. They exhibited and sold at many antique shows across the country.

He and his wife were selected as Senior Citizens of the Year 2000, presented by the Borough of Branchville.

Aside from Lesley, he is survived by his three children, Barbara Poole Kim and her husband, Min, Robert Harris and his wife, Diane, Nanci Haggerty and her husband, Daryl; and his grandchildren, Matthew Poole, Timothy Poole and his wife, Debra, Jesse Poole and his wife, Corrine, Evan and Bryan Harris, Brittany Larson and her husband, Andrew, Austin, Luke and Paxton Haggerty; and his beloved shih-tzu, Baby.

A private graveside service was held at the request of the family. An open memorial service will follow on Monday, July 8, at 3 p.m. at Lafayette Federated Church, 180 Route 15, Lafayette, NJ 07848.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation at http://www.themmrf.org - under "donate" there are instructions for giving online or mailing a donation; or to Baleville Congregational Christian Church at 6 Church Road, Newton; or to Northwest Christian School at 92 Route 519, Newton.

Arrangements are under the direction of Wood Funeral Home, 16 Main St,, Branchville. Online condolences may be offered at www.woodfuneralhome.net.



Funeral Home
Wood Funeral Home
16 Main St
Branchville, NJ 07826
(973) 948-3030
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Published in The New Jersey Herald on July 3, 2013
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