It is with great love and deep sadness that we announce the passing of John Harris. John was born on July 10, 1954, in Montgomery, Alabama. When his father was assigned to Elmendorf Air Force Base, the family settled in Anchorage, Alaska. John adored his family and had countless stories about his childhood. Anchorage has always been John’s hometown, and his dear friends there were like family to him.
From a young age, when John decided he wanted to do something, he did it. At 20, he enlisted in the Navy and had the extraordinary experience of serving on the USS Midway during the evacuation of Saigon. Upon his return to Anchorage, he was asked to join a trail crew for Chugach State Park and was thrilled to eventually become a Chugach State Park Ranger. His fellow rangers from the early 1980's ("The Glory Years" ) will forever be his brothers.
In 1980, John married Vickie Arnold (Harris), in Anchorage, and in 1981 they happily welcomed John’s first child, John. In 1989, John married Kathryn Eitner (Harris), in Spokane. In 1991, John’s second son, Dylan, was born, and in 1992 John’s daughter, Hilary, arrived to complete his family. John’s love for his three kids was endless, and nothing made him happier than to witness their happiness and successes. He was a wonderful father, and they will miss him terribly.
John was an endurance athlete. His running career began in his early 20’s, and he competed in numerous events, including multiple marathons and one ultramarathon. He loved to run. In the mid 80's he moved to San Diego and literally dove into the triathlon scene, which of course required learning how to swim. He competed in countless triathlons, up to the half Ironman distance. His wife Kathryn was his training partner from the beginning of their relationship, and, after the kids finished high school, his fellow competitor. In recent years, he pondered the question of whether he ran to live, or lived to run. Running made John feel healthy and happy and fulfilled, especially during the last six years of his life when he was completely blind. The courage and grace with which John responded to his blindness and serious medical challenges, and in particular his commitment to keep running and keep happy, was an inspiration to many.
John earned his undergraduate degree in psychology from San Diego State University in 1987, and his Master’s degree in Counselor Education from Eastern Washington University in 1994. His professional life was multi-faceted and he was highly successful and well-loved in all his careers, including Chugach State Park Ranger, loan officer at First National Bank of Anchorage, chemical dependency counselor, mental health counselor in private practice, clinical director for Pioneer Human Services at Pioneer Center East, and director of Eleanor Chase and Brownstone work release facilities, both through Pioneer Human Services. The family appreciates the outpouring of love and support from so many of John’s coworkers during his recent years of illness and upon his passing.
John was preceded in death by his infant sister Janis, his father Ollie, his mother Delena, and his older brother Jim. He is survived by his wife Kathryn, his son John, his son Dylan and fiancée Sydnie Gardner, his daughter Hilary Hausmann and husband John, his brother Gerry and sister Sharon, and many beloved nephews, nieces, and in-laws.
To visit John's online memorial, please go to PNWCremation.com. If you like, go for a hike, compete in a race, climb a mountain, or spend a day outside in John's honor.