HomeObituariesJohn Harris; WWII Veteran, Leader In the Community

John Harris; WWII Veteran, Leader In the Community

John S. Harris
October 21, 1925 –
August 12, 2019

John Sherrod Harris IV passed away peacefully, on August 12 in the early morning during his sleep after a recurrence of prostate cancer from many years ago. John was interred with full military honors, with his beloved wife of 67 years, Kate Kimball Harris, at a private service at San Gabriel Cemetery on August 30, attended by family. John is survived by his son, John Sherrod Harris V, and daughter-in-law, Ruth Harris; his daughter, Susan Harris Hoover, grandson, Zachary Sherrod Harris and his wife, Ashley; granddaughter, Megan Liam and her husband, Ben; granddaughter, Chelsey Steeves and her husband, Chase, plus eight great-grandchildren, JJ, Aubrey, Daniel, Nathan, Emery, Mason, Nora and Cohen; and many nieces, nephews, and great-nieces & nephews.

John was both on October 21, 1925, in Los Angeles, to John Sherrod Harris and Catherine Norman. John was close to his sister, Karen (Harris) Van Vlear, and half-siblings Van and Marion Harris. During his youth, John moved from West Los Angeles to Glendale, and finally took up roots in San Marino as his father—an entrepreneurial realtor—sold bank-owned properties following the Great Depression.

John attended San Marino-South Pasadena Senior High School. During that time, he started taking notice his close friend Bob Kimball’s younger sister, Kate, who would later become his bride.

As a member of the Greatest Generation, John was a veteran of WWII. He entered the US Army in January 1943 and, following training at the Infantry School at Ft. Benning Georgia, was assigned to the European Theatre with the Artillery Section Headquarters, 7th Army, which was responsible for liberating southern French ports, the Rhone Valley and the final assault and occupation of southern Germany. Later, as an administrative NCO, John supervised enlisted personnel matters including separation activities related to demobilization of forces and their return to the United States. He served with distinction to his honorable discharge as a Sergeant in May 1946.

When the War concluded and John returned home, he continued his studies at the University of Southern California, where he was a member of Phi Sigma Kappa, and graduated in 1948 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration. During these years John noticed that his good friend, Bob Kimball’s younger sister, Kate, had grown up. Kate caught John’s attention in a big way. Kate graduated from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Science degree, and they were married on June 30, 1950.

John and Kate had a wonderful 67-year marriage. In the early years, they volunteered as Cub Scout, Boy Scout and Girl Scout leaders, Little League coach, and orchestrated family outings and annual vacations throughout the United States. They loved entertaining family at their vacation beach house in San Clemente, and traveling with their children and grandchildren in Hawaii. John and Kate were blessed to have many life-long dear friends with whom they enjoyed frequent social get-togethers and travel throughout the United States and Europe.

John acquired a real estate license after graduating from USC, but soon became co-owner of William Penn Finance Company, which made consumer loans. After many years, the business was sold and merged with Liberty Loan Corporation of St. Louis. In the 1970’s John semi-retired from finance. He returned to his roots as a realtor, and opened the John Harris Company on Huntington Drive in San Marino, where he sold residential real estate until his retirement.

John Harris speaks at the Rotary Paul Harris Luncheon, Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens, 2017.

During John’s business career he maintained a strong commitment to do good work, and be of service to his church and community. John was a lifelong member of San Marino Community Church, where he served as a deacon, elder, usher, and on many committees. John was first recognized in the 1960’s for his work with El Calvario Community Center in El Monte. John was a past president of the San Marino-South Pasadena Board of Realtors, and held positions in the California Association of Realtors. John was also a Trustee Emeriti, and Treasurer for many years of the Old Mill Foundation, a California Historical Landmark in San Marino. John was an active member of the Rotary Club of San Marino since 1977, where he was a past president, and in 2017 was awarded the honor of Rotarian of the Year. John was at the highest level of Rotary Paul Harris Fellowship, and for many years led efforts whereby the Rotary Club of San Marino achieved the distinction of being a Sustaining Member Club in Rotary International, worldwide.

John was also a loving and devoted father and husband. He provided Kate with exceptional love, compassion and care at home throughout her seven-year illness with Alzheimer’s. John faced his declining health and cancer with strength and resilience. His greatest frustration was that he became unable to actively participate in his church and service organizations. His strength and perseverance until the end continue to be an inspiration to us all.

A Celebration of John’s life will be held Friday, September 13 at 11:00 a.m. at San Marino Community Church, followed by a lunch reception at the Church. All friends and family are welcome. In lieu of flowers, the family requests we that donations be made to the Foundation of San Marino Community Church, the Rotary Foundation or the Old Mill Foundation.


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