Longtime Bingen, Wash., resident Dave Harris passed away at Skyline Hospital on Oct. 11, 2013, after suffering a severe stroke the previous Monday night. His loving wife and best friend of 67 years was at his bedside when Dave left us.
David Henry Harris was born in Issaquah, Wash., on Jan. 20, 1920, to Arthur and Beryl (Simmonds) Harris. Soon after, the family moved to the little community of Ethel, Wash., near Chehalis, where Dave spent his formative years growing up on the small family farm, attending grade school and graduating from Onalaska High School in 1939.
When the war broke out, Dave joined the U.S. Navy, where he served three years abroad the USS Daring in the South Pacific. During the final months of his tour, he was stationed at the naval base in San Diego, where he met his bride-to-be, Esther Gilje, a North Dakota farm girl working for Western Union. A few months after they met, they were married in Seattle on New Year’s Day in 1946.
In 1948, Dave, Esther and their daughter Maureen moved from Ethel to Bingen, where Dave, along with a partner, acquired the Texaco gas station and operated it until the early 1950s. In 1955, Dave began his career with SDS Lumber Company in the truck shop, working as a heavy equipment mechanic until his retirement in 1983.
Once established in Bingen, Dave spent most of his free time building a home on Franklin Street, where he and Esther raised their three children, and where Esther still lives today. In his earlier years in Bingen, Dave also enjoyed hunting and fishing when time allowed.
In the mid ‘60s, another lot was purchased adjacent to their home, where Dave began a parallel career as a “gardener extraordinaire.” This plot of land is where he spent most of his free time from March to October every year, planting and harvesting a vast variety of vegetables. This year he had 28 tomato plants! He was especially proud of his tomatoes.
In the fall, one would find Dave and Esther canning the bounty from the garden and giving most of it away to family, friends and neighbors. It’s been a ritual for years.
Once both Dave and Esther had retired, they were bitten by the travel bug and for the next two decades enjoyed at least a couple of excursions every year. They visited Australia, New Zealand, and most of the countries in Europe, and also traveled extensively throughout this country.
Dave, more than anything, enjoyed spending time with his family, and especially being “Granddad.” People who were fortunate enough to know Dave and Esther found these two to be among the most sincere and caring couple one could ever have the pleasure to know.
Dave is survived by his wife, Esther; his daughter, Maureen Maguire, of Poulsbo, Wash., and two sons, Jerry, of Portland, and Rob, of Bremerton, Wash., as well as three grandsons, Damian of Brooklyn, N.Y., and Cameron and Dylan, both of Portland. In addition, he is survived by his son-in-law Ken and his daughter-in-law Jean, both of whom he considered his own children. Dave is also survived by his brother Jack, who still lives on the family farm in Ethel.
The Harris family wishes to express its sincere thanks and gratitude to the doctors, nurses and the entire Skyline Hospital staff for the wonderful care Dave and his family received during his stay. Every effort was made to ensure that Dad (and his family) was as comfortable as possible during his last days. Our family will be eternally grateful to all these folks for their kindness.
A memorial service will be held Nov. 2 to celebrate Dave’s long and productive life. The gathering will start at 2 p.m. in Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, located at 1140 Tucker Road in Hood River, Ore.
In lieu of flowers, the family wishes that donations be made to the FISH Food Bank building fund through Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Hood River, or to a favorite charity.
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