David “Dave” Orville Harris
September 22, 1931 - January 26, 2018
David “Dave” Orville Harris, 86, of rural Mason City, Iowa, passed away peacefully on January 26, 2018, at the Muse Norris Hospice Inpatient Unit at Hospice of North Iowa Center, in Mason City, Iowa, of complications due to colorectal and undiagnosed blood cancers.
Dave was born on September 22, 1931 to Orville Harris and Grace (DeGraw) Harris in Mason City, Iowa. He was the only child of Orville Harris and had two half-sisters, Patricia Hasel and Cherie Collentine. He attended Mason City schools and graduated from MCHS in 1949. He graduated from Mason City Junior College with an A.A. degree in Accounting and began his career as a bookkeeper for the Manly Farmer's Cooperative. He served his country stateside as a U.S. Army Sergeant during the Korean conflict from 1952-1954. He taught pole-climbing to troops at Fort Riley, Kansas and was fond of telling stories of his days in the military.
On May 25, 1952, he married Ellen Alberta Hill in Manly, Iowa. To this union two sons were born, Rex David Harris and Ross David Harris. The marriage ended in 1983 and he later married Marilyn (“Mamie”) Honken of Charles City, Iowa. Mamie passed away in 1997. In 2003 he married Charlotte L. Parcher of Mason City, Iowa. This marriage ended in 2007.
Dave's passions were flying and farming. At age 13, he would “catch a ride” to the Mason City airport, where he learned to fly before he obtained a drivers' license. During the 1940's, he performed stunts in regional air shows as a wing walker and parachutist. A licensed private pilot, he created an FAA-approved airport on the family farm known as Harris Field. He was a charter member of the Experimental Aircraft Association's (EAA) Chapter 94, and was involved in its Vintage Aircraft Association and Young Eagles Programs. Along with participation in the Midwest Antique Airplane Club, he enjoyed many trips with family and friends to Oshkosh and Brodhead, Wisconsin, for associated activities. In his later years he also enjoyed special trips with family and friends to see airshows and historical sites in Brazil, Germany, and the Continental U.S. Dave was a devoted steward of his farmland, and an avid conservationist. He lived and worked on the farm as simply as possible, and served as a Trustee on the Lime Creek Township Board in Cerro Gordo County, Iowa.
Dave is survived by son Rex and his wife Marjorie of Breezy Point, Minnesota; and son Ross and his wife Elizabeth Van Zomeren of Johnston, Iowa. He is also survived by three grandchildren, Andrew (Katie) Harris, of Eagan, Minnesota; Rachel Harris of Detroit Lakes, Minnesota; and Patricia Harris, of Breezy Point, Minnesota; and a great-grandson, Gavin Robert Harris of Eagan, Minnesota. He is also survived by his half-sister, Patricia, formerly of Mason City and Ventura, currently residing in Atlantic, Iowa, and her children and families, Jon Benn, of Deland, Florida; Matt Benn, of Atlantic, Iowa; and Bonni Bohl, of Chicago, Illinois. He is also survived by Max, his beloved Great Pyrenees.
Dave was preceded in death by his parents, former spouses Ellen and Mamie, half-sister Cherie Collentine, nephew Jay Benn, and great-nephew Scott Bohl.
The family wishes to thank the staff of Mercy Hospital, Manly Specialty Care, and Hospice of North Iowa for their care of Dave in the final weeks of his life. Special thanks to neighbor and friend Mike Brown and to special niece Bonni for their generous support for Dave over the years.
In accordance with Dave's wishes, a private memorial service will be held on Dave's birthday on September 22, 2018, with details to follow. Plaques in Dave's honor will be placed on the Memorial Wall at Memorial Park Cemetery in Mason City, Iowa, and on the EAA Memorial Wall in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
Condolences to the family may be sent to Ross Harris, P.O. Box 561, Johnston, Iowa, 50131. Online condolences may also be left at IowaCremation.com under obituaries. Memorials in Dave's name may be directed to charities and organizations of the donor's choice.