Mr. Harris, 91, died Feb. 6, 2022.
Phil D. Harris, 91, died peacefully on Feb. 6, 2022.
A red-headed stranger once implored mothers to not let their sons grow up to be cowboys. One can only imagine Phil Harris’ mother wringing her time-weathered hands at the man her 8th child would become. He made his mama and daddy proud.
Born in Okmulgee, Oklahoma, Phil followed in his older brothers’ footsteps after graduating from Okmulgee High School. He enlisted in the military, leaving Oklahoma behind but returning throughout the years to tell tall tales and make new memories with the ever-growing Harris clan.
While stationed at Pinecastle Air Force Base in Central Florida, he met and married Ann Johnson, the love of his life. For the next 20 years, they made their home where duty called, from England to Eglin, Minot and Wichita Falls. Along the way, they raised three strong, fiercely independent women, much like Phil’s sisters and mother.
After a final tour of duty in the South China Seas, Phil retired with the rank of Master Sergeant from the Air Force. He returned to Central Florida and began his second career as a banker with Sun Bank in Orlando. From the collections office in MasterCard services to an Executive Vice President in the Trust Department, he retired after more than 20 years.
Phil played golf as long as he could maintain a respectable handicap, read and re-read every Zane Grey book, fished only when the weather was perfect, maintained an impeccable yard, played cards (Phil could beat you at a round of gin, and yet you felt happy just to play), kept a watchful eye on his bluebird houses, and charmed every man, woman, child and dog he met.
Phil will be missed by his daughter, Raenelle Harris Bailey, and her husband, Travis Bailey; granddaughters, Lorie Bonham and Jessica Bailey; grandsons, Chris Justice and Daniel Hanna; six great-grandchildren; his sister, Erbie; and many loving nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Gloria Ann Harris; and daughters, Marcia Harris and Nila Harris.
His family is at peace knowing that he is with Ann up yonder, strolling hand in hand again.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests those who wish to express sympathy to consider donating to the Orange Audubon Society (www.orangeaudubonfl.org) in Phil Harris’ name.
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