Robert Lee Harris
Published: Friday, February 8, 2013 at 3:41 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, February 8, 2013 at 3:41 p.m.
Robert Lee Harris taught math for two decades at Petaluma High School, where he also coached golf and helped behind the scenes for other athletic events.
Harris died Sunday at a San Rafael hospital after a short illness. He was 83.
In retirement, he especially enjoyed regular visits from four grandchildren who lived in Sonoma County. The grandchildren, who at the time were home-schooled, each took turns spending one day a week with their grandparents in Petaluma.
“He loved his family,” recalled his wife, Laverna Harris. “They were his life.”
Harris was born Aug. 20, 1929 in Texarkana, Ark. He had yet to finish high school when he joined the U.S. Navy in 1946. He served aboard the USS Higbee, a destroyer patrolling off the coast of China.
After his discharge in 1948, he returned to finish high school in Portales, N.M. There he met his future wife. The couple married in 1950.
Harris received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Eastern New Mexico University. He spent a decade as a teacher and administrator in Colorado and New Mexico.
He moved to Petaluma in 1965 to teach at the high school. Over the years he taught virtually every course from basic math to calculus.
Along with coaching golf, he served as a scorekeeper for the school’s basketball games. He also helped oversee the ticket sales and refreshments for basketball and football games.
He retired in 1988.
Harris remained active for nearly five decades at Petaluma United Methodist Church, where he once served as a lay leader and a member of the finance committee. He enjoyed golfing, gardening and feeding birds, including a covey of quail that regularly visited his home.
Along with his wife, he is survived by three children: Rita Crawford of Camas, Wash., Linda McGunagle of Redding and Chuck Harris of Sebastopol; by two brothers, a sister, 10 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held 11 a.m. February 23 at the Petaluma United Methodist Church, 410 D St. The family prefers memorial contributions to the church or a favorite charity.
— Robert Digitale
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