Dale Edward Harris 1943-2019
Dale Edward Harris, age 76, died on November 27, 2019 in his home in The Woodlands, Texas, attended by his wife Peggy. He was beloved as husband, father, friend, amateur artist and community volunteer. He will be remembered for his kindness. He was a good man.
Dale was born in Greenfield, Missouri, on July 17, 1943 to J.D. Harris and Maurine Hobby Harris. They lived in Dadeville and Huntsville, Missouri before moving to Poplar Bluff, Missouri in 1951. Graduating high school in 1961, Dale was an outstanding student leader and served as president of the Methodist Youth Fellowship, the Rotary Key Club, his junior class and high school student council. During these years he worked as a newspaper delivery boy, a grocery store bag boy, a lifeguard and swimming teacher at Hillcrest Swimming Pool.
Dale was in the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity at the University of Missouri and graduated in 1965 with a degree from the School of Journalism. While working as a summer intern in Washington, D.C., he learned of a training program for the newly established Peace Corps. The next year he spent the summer at Yale University, as a pioneer in this program.
After graduating college, he continued training in Ponce, Puerto Rico and was assigned to be a community development worker in the Cochabamba, Bolivia area. He served one barrio and two small villages during his two-year term. Only one of the locations had running water, but the single water spigot in Tiquipaya, Bolivia, was 100 yards from his house. That village also had electricity for only two hours each evening.
When Dale returned to the U.S. in 1967, he started the Master's in Business Administration program at Mizzou. However, Congress terminated the military service deferral for graduate school midway through his studies and he was immediately drafted into the U.S. Army.
After basic training, Dale served in Vietnam for 13.5 months in a mechanized personnel carrier unit based on a small landing zone near the coastal village of Chu Li, 45 miles south of DaNang. After serving, he returned to the U.S. to complete his MBA-Marketing degree and was hired by Champion Papers, a manufacturer of coated and embossed fine printing papers, located in New York City. The job required working with graphic designers and international travel. A perfect match!
Dale loved living in New York City and met his soon-to-be fiancée, Peggy Tompkins, on a TWA flight home. They were married in Marshall, Missouri in 1974. While Peggy studied for her MBA-Finance at Columbia University, Dale had time to enjoy many Broadway plays, art galleries and museums. Upon graduation Peggy was hired by Exxon U.S.A. and they moved to Houston in 1976. Dale soon found a position as Director of Communications for the Houston Chamber of Commerce where he served until being recruited in 1980 by Prudential Insurance Company as manager of public relations for their Southwest region.
Dale helped numerous Houston organizations, but his proudest accomplishment was arranging a Prudential donation to the National Committee for the Prevention of Child Abuse. He organized a founding committee to set up a Houston chapter, the first in Texas. Soon they were assisting other cities in Texas to establish chapters that are ongoing today.
He transferred to Prudential's Western Home Office in Woodland Hills, California in 1985 as manager of marketing support. He continued his role as manager of charitable donations and became president of the Los Angeles Donors Association, where corporate members shared information about non-profits in need of help. He traveled extensively to western family resorts, scouting locations for annual insurance sales achievement meetings. One month each summer was spent onsite, coordinating family programs and employee training sessions.
Sometimes he was joined by his family.
In 1996 Dale transferred to Prudential's world headquarters in Newark, New Jersey and the family moved to Basking Ridge, New Jersey. There he worked in community resources, managing employee volunteerism and representation by Prudential managers on local non-profit boards. He personally served on boards and as president of the AIDS Resource Foundation for Children and the Newark Arts Council.
Dale retired from Prudential in 2008 after being stricken by a rare cancer of the cranial nerves on the right side of his face. He lost the use of his right eye, but retained function in his left eye. Radical treatment caused severe side effects with which he coped with dignity for the next 11 years. He and Peggy moved to Texas in 2016 to be closer to family.
Dale was preceded in death by his father and mother, J.D. and Maurine, and his brother David Harris. He is survived by his wife Peggy, brother Robert Harris and wife Carolyn, sister Nelda Jean Harris, son Ben Harris and wife Erica, son Grant Harris and wife Jodi, and four grandchildren, Larson and Bodhi Harris, and Mae and Finn Harris.
A memorial service will be announced later to be held at The First Presbyterian Church, 1 East Oak Street, Basking Ridge, NJ 07920 followed by burial of ashes in the church's memorial garden.
The family requests donations in lieu of flowers to the Basking Ridge church as well as to Woodlands Community Presbyterian Church, 4881 W. Panther Creek Drive, The Woodlands, Texas 77381.
Published in Houston Chronicle on Dec. 11, 2019