NORMAN — Hugh Emison Harris Jr., 83, died Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013, in Oklahoma City. He was born Nov. 6, 1929, to Hugh and Rubeal Foster Harris in Cushing.
Services will be 2 p.m. today at St. Stephen’s United Methodist Church in Norman.
Hugh graduated from Stroud High School in 1947. He then attended the University of Oklahoma, where he received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. While at OU, he was a member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. Upon graduation, he served on active duty with the Army for three years, followed by 19 years in the Army Reserve and then retired as a lieutenant colonel.
While in the Army, he met Sally Virginia Mears on a blind date and they were married in 1956.
After serving his active duty, he and Sally made their home in Norman, where he had a long career in public education, including teaching and later serving as vice principal of Central Junior High School. The majority of his career was spent at the University of Oklahoma in continuing education for the Independent Study Department, where he eventually served as director until his retirement in 1994.
Hugh enjoyed retirement immensely and was active in numerous organizations and activities, including Food and Shelter, Friends of the Norman Public Library, Meals on Wheels, the Salvation Army, Master Gardeners and the OU Retired Employees Association. For many of these organizations, he served as a board member and officer. He was very active at his church, St. Stephen’s, and had been a member there since 1961, soon after it was established. In addition, he loved working in his garden, where he grew gorgeous tomatoes and herbs, among other things, being outdoors, traveling (especially to Santa Fe and Colorado), reading and working jigsaw puzzles, even though he was color blind, and crossword puzzles with a pen.
He very much enjoyed attending music and drama productions at OU, and watching old movies. He loved entertaining family and friends at his home and hosted numerous OU football watch parties and an annual croquet party. He was a big OU sports fan and could be seen running the chains for OU football games in the 1950s and ’60s and working in the press box in the 1970s and ’80s. He once told his daughter, Anne, that he was having so much fun in retirement with all his various activities that he sometimes looked back and wondered how he ever had time for a career.
In 2000, Hugh lost his wife, Sally, but was lucky to find love again and married Donna Kay Couch on May 21, 2011. Though not married for long, Hugh and Donna enjoyed a long friendship before they started dating in 2004, talking over the fence, as they lived next door to each other for 35 years.
He will be remembered always for his kind and generous spirit, for being a gentleman and always showing by his actions and words how important his family and friends were to him.
He was preceded in death by his parents; wife, Sally; and son, Hugh Emison Harris III.
Hugh is survived by his wife Donna; daughter, Sidney Anne Harris, daughter, Tiffany Couch, and grandson, Zach Daubenspeck, all of Norman; brother, Tom Harris (Molly) of Bella Vista, Ark.; sister, Helen Rossney (Joe) of Murraysville, Pa.; and numerous nieces and nephews and their children, who all played an important role in his life.
Memorial donations may be made to St. Stephen’s United Methodist Church, the Pioneer Library System Foundation, Second Chance Animal Sanctuary or Meals on Wheels.
Norman Transcript, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013