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Albert Jay Harris

Harris, Albert Jay BALLSTON SPA Albert Jay Harris, 89, passed away peacefully at Saratoga Hospital on October 4, 2013 with his three sons bedside. Al was born at home on March 24, 1924 in the hamlet of Harris. He was the youngest of the three children of Jeanette and Jay B. Harris. Al worshipped his older siblings, Agnes and Jack, who, with his parents, preceded him in death. Upon high school graduation in the summer of 1942 as the country geared up for the Second World War, Al enlisted in the Marine Corps and was trained at Camp Pendleton, Calif. in the use of the 30-caliber machine gun, a device which required a three-man crew to operate. The three crew members became fast friends as well as comrades-in-arms. Al survived the fighting on Roi-Namuar in the Marshall Islands campaign, Saipan and Tinian in the Mariana Islands campaign, and the battle for Iwo Jima. One of his two buddies died on the beach in Saipan on day one of the fight and the other was killed on Iwo Jima towards the end of the engagement. Al mourned his two friends thereafter and paid homage to the tens of thousands of brave young men on both sides of the fighting who were killed in those horrifying days in those faraway places right up until his own final conscious moments. After the war, he took a job with New York Telephone as a lineman and over the next 43 years rose through the ranks to management positions with "NY Bell" and later, onto senior level management with the parent corporation, AT&T. During his career his job entailed relocations from the Monticello office to Albany, Manhattan, St. Louis, and finally to the AT&T headquarters in Basking Ridge, N.J. He retired to his home in Ballston Spa in 1984. In 1947, he and some veteran friends decided it would be a swell idea to join the Marine Reserves inasmuch as the local unit had a baseball team that was a good one and they would all have a chance to play. But ultimately Al thought that was somewhat less than a great decision when the Korean War broke out and he was recalled to active duty and sent south to Camp Lajeune, N.C., as a sergeant, training new recruits in the use of the 30-caliber air and water-cooled machine guns. The recall was also difficult since Al had met and married after a whirlwind courtship the love of his life, the vivacious young telephone operator, Nancy Potter of Ballston Spa. Their first son, Daniel, an infant when the Korean conflict broke out, made for additional logistical complications, but eventually Nancy with Daniel in tow relocated to North Carolina to be nearby Al for the duration. And so Al did his duty for his country a second time without complaint. In all, Al served honorably for eight years in the Marine Corps. And after that, he never touched a gun again. Al and Nancy were married and completely devoted to one another for 56 years until her death in 2004, during which time they raised two more sons, John and Martin. They were very good parents with always the best intentions and appropriate priorities with regard to their boys to whom they were loving, kind and understanding. They were proud parents. Al is survived by Daniel and Julie Harris of Saratoga Springs, and Evanston, Ill., John Harris of Ballston Spa, Martin and Sharon Harris of Charlotte, N.C. He also has three grandchildren, Jessica Harris of Berlin, Germany and Rome, Italy, and Lily and Samuel Harris of Charlotte. Interment will take place at 12:30 p.m. on Monday, October 7, 2013 at the Gerald B.H. Solomon Saratoga National Cemetery where Al's (and Nancy's) remains will rest alongside those of comrades in a fitting setting. Relatives and friends are invited to attend the service at the cemetery. Online remembrances may be made at armerfuneralhome.com.
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Published in Albany Times Union on Oct. 6, 2013
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