Casper, Wyoming / October 28, 1931 – November 17, 2017
Donald Alvan Harris passed away peacefully Friday at Shepherd of the Valley. Don was the second son of Alvan and Ruth Harris. He was born October 28, 1931 in Cheyenne, Wyoming where he attended school thru seventh grade. Don moved with his older brother Glenn and parents to Casper where he continued his education and graduated from Natrona County High School in 1949. He attended George Washington University in 1949-50 while his Father, Alvan, served as an aide to Senator Hayes in Washington, D.C. He returned to Wyoming and attended the University of Wyoming until early spring 1954. Being that communication is not what it is today, he did not find out that he had met all the requirements to graduate until that fall. He did not return to UW until the fall of 1970 and graduated with a BS in Accounting and passed the exam to become a Certified Public Accountant, in the first sitting, in the spring of 1971.
Don had the typical childhood jobs: paperboy for the Cheyenne Tribune-Eagle, babysitting, lawn work, and stock boy for the Casper Commissary. He started his professional career in Washington, D.C. as a Statistical Clerk for Equitable Life Insurance Company. While at UW he was a “Food Hasher” for Fraternity, Sorority, and Student Union Food Service’s. He also started his life-long commitment to “Service above Self,” earning his credentials as an American Red Cross Lifeguard, Water Safety Instructor, and eventually, Adaptive Aquatic Instructor. Upon leaving UW in 1954, he worked for a year inspecting and writing summaries for new insurance customers. In spring 1955 he was hired by Casper Lumber Company and reached the position of Accountant and Credit Manager. After turning down the opportunity to take over the lumber company, Don went back to UW to finish his degree and start his own business as a Certified Public Accountant. His business went thru various transformations from 1971 until he retired in 2010.
Don was preceded in death by his brother, Glenn R. Harris of Powell; parents, Alvan and Ruth Harris of Cheyenne; and his first wife, Jeannie Geraldine (Stump) Harris of Glenrock.
Those surviving are wife, Hallie J. Harris of Casper; sons, James, Dave, and Ken Harris of Casper; step-daughter, Colleen Carol (Clardy) Dalton of Everett, WA; grandchildren, Jamie Suazo of Silverdale, WA, Randi Cook of Bonnie Lake, WA, Troy Patrick Harris of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Jeanne, Kristin, and Guy Harris of Casper, and Lori Harris of Scobey, Montana; and thirteen great-grandchildren.
The First United Methodist Church of Cheyenne, and later, “Charter Member” of Christ Methodist Church, and finally First United Methodist Church of Casper provided Don with a cornerstone for his life of service. He served in many areas of the church, including Youth Leader, Treasurer, Boy Scouts of America, Lay Leader, and member of United Methodist Men.
Building on the experience he achieved in college and later at the YMCA of Casper, as a Swim Instructor and Lifeguard, Don teamed up with the Creager and Cropsey families to start an Adaptive Aquatic Program for children and adults at the YMCA. After losing his first wife, Jeannie, to cancer, he partnered with the “Y” and founded” Parents Without Partners,” where he met his second wife Hallie. He later moved into positions at the “Y” as Treasurer and President. In 2012, Don was a member of the first group inducted into “The Casper Family YMCA Hall of Fame.”
In 1984, Don became a member of Rotary Club of Casper. Among the many projects “Rotary” has developed over the years, including Rotary Park at Garden Creek Falls, the playground at Mike Lansing Field, statues in downtown Casper, and countless other projects both local and internationally, Don was actively involved. Don and Hallie have received the “Paul Harris Fellow” and “Stan Lowe” awards for contributions to Rotary, both locally and internationally. His most recent project was selling tickets for the annual “Duck Derby” at the Rotary booth during the Beartrap Festival this past August.
Among the sixty-odd trips that Hallie and Don took with Elderhostel/Road Scholar, one trip to Everett, Washington sparked a new organization in Natrona County. Due in part to a Christmas gift of a door and window donated in their honor to Habitat for Humanity, they used the trip to work on a Habitat project. They were so impressed with the organization and the volunteerism they encountered they decided that we needed this force for good in Central Wyoming. Thus, Habitat for Humanity, the Heart of Wyoming, was born. Thirty-three homes and countless volunteer hours later, Don and Hallie were honored this fall with the first “Legacy Award” for their contributions, as well as having the next thirteen house subdivision in Casper named in their honor, “Harris Crossing.”
Don was actively involved in many other organizations throughout his life including: United Way of Natrona County, Meals on Wheels, Holy Cross Food Bank, Casper Centennial Committee, Platte River Parkway, various credit management and consumer credit organizations.
In Lieu of flowers, the family requests that you give a hug to someone who needs one, perform a random act of kindness, have a drink with someone you haven’t seen recently, and donate time and/or money to Habitat for Humanity, Heart of Wyoming; Rotary Foundation, Meals on Wheels, or First United Methodist Church; of Casper.
A funeral service will be held on Wednesday, November 15, 2017 at 10:30 am at the First United Methodist Church with Pastor Brian Oliver officiating. A reception will immediately follow the service at the church. A graveside service will be held in the afternoon at 2 pm at the Memorial Gardens Cemetery.
The family will receive friends at Bustard’s Funeral Home on Tuesday, November 14, 2017 from 5-7pm.
Bustard’s Funeral Home is assisting the family.