John Robert Harris


One of our lovers of music has left this earth to be reunited with his eternal companion and return to his heavenly home. John Robert Harris, known by his friends as Bob, passed away on Thursday, Jan. 21, at Colonial Oaks Care Center, located in Houston, Texas.

Bob was born on Jan. 11, 1932, in Prescott, Arizona, to John Roosevelt Harris and Zelta Scott. The family moved from there to Prosser, Washington, and then to Arcata, California. He grew up on the family dairy farm as the oldest of five children.

He loved singing, music and, especially, playing his trombone in the school band.  Bob was friendly, with an outgoing personality and was elected senior class president in high school. He served his country in the Korean War for four years aboard a Naval aircraft carrier. He was trained as an aircraft mechanic, served as fire marshall on Treasure Island and also volunteered in the Navy band.

Upon resigning his commission in the Navy, Bob attended Humboldt State College in Arcata, California, and earned a degree in music under the world renowned and master musician, Dr. Lee Barlow.

He married Chloa Renee Blackburn, another lover of music, on Dec. 19, 1955, in the Mesa, Arizona, LDS Temple. Together, they raised six children while living in Arcata and Eureka, Salt Lake City, and Evanston.

Bob was an entrepreneur and after serving in the military, he returned to civilian life and started his own construction company. He was a gifted carpenter, mechanic and musician. Along with spending years in the logging industry, establishing himself as a home builder and restoring an old piano for his mother, he also loved to repair and restore automobiles.

After repairing a few Volkswagen bugs and welding two wrecked ones together,  Bob became known in Humboldt County as the “Volkswagen King.” He was even seen floating down the Mad River in his creation.

He also loved to sing and direct music. As members of The California Redwoods Chorale, he and Renee had the opportunity to perform on two separate tours across Europe in the 1970s, which was one of the highlights in his life. And above all, he was a faithful member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and loved serving as a teacher and choir director for many years.

Following 53 years of marriage, Renee passed away on Nov. 13, 2008. He then married Donna May Meyers in June of 2009, and became a stepfather to 12 grown children and many more grandchildren.

Bob was preceded in death by both of his parents and three siblings: Thomas Richard, Ila Faye and Bonnie Lou.

He is survived by his wife, Donna May; one sister, Barbara Ann Whitney; six children, Robert Wayne, Jayne Reneé, Scott Lane, LaRayne Faye, John Shane and Sterling CoHane (yes, they all rhyme!); 31 grandchildren and 24 great-grandchildren.

Bob’s smile brought happiness to any room he was in and will be missed.

Funeral services will be held on Saturday, Jan. 30, in the 25th Ward Chapel, located at 1145 W.  500 South in Salt Lake City, Utah. Viewing will be at 9 a.m. with funeral at 10 a.m., followed by interment in the Dayton, Idaho, Cemetery.

The Harris and Morey/Casto families would like to thank the staff at Colonial Oaks for their loving care and Holbrook Mortuary for their excellent services along with coordinating the move of his body to make it possible to have the funeral in Utah, where most of his close friends and family are located.

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