Wednesday, May 2, 2012
JOSEPH “CAL“ HARRIS
February 28, 1929 - November 18, 2011
When asked where he was born, Cal always smiled and said, Grandma's house. That house was in Lindsay, Okla., and it was there on February 28, 1929, the first of four children was born to Dessie and Ira Harris. Brother, Bob arrived the next year, followed shortly by brother, Charles, and then baby sister, Fern. Cal grew up on farms in and around the small communities of Lindsay, Foster, and Elmore City in south-central Oklahoma. His parents and the younger children moved out west to the central California community of Porterville in the late 1940s, but Cal stayed behind. He lived with his grandma and two maiden aunts so that he could play basketball and graduate with his class at Elmore City High in 1947.
Following graduation he joined the family in Porterville. After working for a year he decided to enlist in the Navy and see the world. The first two years of his Navy experience were on the U.S.S. Curtiss, as a seaplane tender and the Admiral's flagship. They spent their time cruising the Pacific between Hawaii, the Aleutian Islands, San Francisco, and San Diego. Overnight that changed. June of 1950, he found himself aboard the attack carrier U.S.S. Phillipine Sea, bound "full speed ahead" for Korea. While in the Navy, Cal served as a storekeeper second class, procuring and dispensing supplies for the ship.
Following his first tour of duty, while on his 30-day leave, Cal and two of his buddies drove north from San Francisco to Lakeport, Calif., to visit a friend of one of those buddies. As luck (or fate) would have it, it was on this trip that he met his future wife, Pat, who happened to be the niece of the friend. Pat and her family were vacationing in Lakeport following her graduation from Burbank High School. A whirlwind romance followed with hundreds of miles put on Cal's shiny new Ford as it traveled between San Francisco, San Diego, and Burbank. Cal and Pat decided to marry before he shipped back to Korea, and on November 18, 1951, they were wed at North Glendale Methodist Church.
In March 1952, his four-year tour of duty ended, and the young couple settled down in Burbank to await the birth of their first daughter. Carolyn Lee was born September 11, 1952. Cal worked for Weber Aircraft and Litton Industries while in the southland. They bought their first home in Van Nuys in 1954, and their second daughter, Tamara Susan was born December 8, 1957.
By 1958, the decision was made to leave southern California and return to Lakeport to raise the girls in a small-town atmosphere. After settling in and working at various jobs, among them, operating the sewage treatment facility for the city of Lakeport, Cal joined with Pat's dad and they opened the first coin-operated laundry in the area. Ultimately Cal and Pat bought the business and expanded it to two laundries, a dry cleaning operation, and a coin-operated car wash. Cal's Quick Clean Center continued until the sale of the business in 1976. They built their dream home just a block from Clear Lake, in 1962, and remained there until after the marriage of their daughter, Carolyn, to Tom Cannon, in 1971. A bigger house followed, and the family remained in Lakeport until the graduation of younger daughter, Tammy.
Cal always had an interest in real estate, especially in land sales. He attended Mendocino College and earned his California real estate certificate in the early 1970s. He continued to oversee the cleaning business while associated with Les Aaker Real Estate in Lakeport. In 1976 the businesses and the house were sold, and Cal and Pat moved to Fresno, Calif., to continue what was to be a 30-year real estate career. While in Fresno, Cal Harris associated with Herald Realty, specializing in the sale of large income-producing properties on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley. He later opened his own brokerage, Cal Harris Real Estate. He operated that business until the urge to move back north became too strong to ignore, both for the climate and to be closer to their daughters and five grandchildren. In 1984, Cal and Pat packed up and moved to Medford, Ore., where Cal continued in real estate, starting with Van Vleet and Associates, and ending at The Real Estate Center with his retirement in 2000.
Following retirement, Cal and Pat became snow birds. The couple had always been avid campers, from tent and camp-trailer camping at the coast and local lakes during the Lakeport years, to buying their first motor home in 1990. For many years while still working, they traveled the Pacific Northwest, even making a long-anticipated trip to Alaska in 1999. In 2000 they started taking winter vacations in the southland, traveling around California and Arizona. Ultimately they decided on North Palm Springs for their winter home. After purchasing a lot in Two Springs R.V Resort, the couple eventually traded in their rolling home for a big fifth wheel trailer which stays there. Unfortunately, Cal's failing health kept him from enjoying the last couple of years as much as he wished. On October 20, 2011, after arriving in the desert, his health took a turn for the worse, and ten days later he was hospitalized. On November 18, 2011, on their 60th wedding anniversary, Cal lost his battle with congestive heart failure.
So much more could be said about Cal's life. He loved to fish and was a hunter in his younger days. He taught the girls to fish at an early age and they too have a love of the great outdoors. Basketball was his sport. You didn't need Google, he was a walking encyclopedia of every team, the players, and their stats for the past 50 years. He also had a great affinity for Western art and had an extensive collection. Cal was also an avid collector of Francoma pottery which is an Oklahoma art form. His large collection of Francoma cowboy boots garnered the nickname of The Cowboy Room for the family room at home.
He leaves behind Pat, his wife of 60 years; daughters, Carolyn (Thomas) Cannon, and Tammy (Carl) Kirkpatrick; granddaughters, Amanda Katasse, Mari Jeffries, and Kari Kirkpatrick; grandsons, Jamie Cannon and Carl Kirkpatrick Jr.; and nine great-grandchildren.
Interment will be at Siskiyou Memorial Park, Saturday, May 5, 2012, at 11:00 a.m., Pastor Alicia Speidel, of Medford First Christian church presiding. A celebration of life will be held at the clubhouse at San George Estates, 10 E. South Stage Rd., Medford, at 12:30 following the service.