Thomas Lee Harris passed away on September 13, 2020 at his home, surrounded by loved ones.
Tom was born on May 4, 1934 in New Castle, PA to R.W. Harris II and Dorothy Covell Harris.
After graduating from New Castle High School, Tom joined the U.S. Army. He was stationed at the Aberdeen Proving Ground for basic training and attended the Army Language School in Monterey, CA. He is a veteran of the Korean War, having served as a translator while assigned to the 501st Military Intelligence Brigade near Seoul, South Korea.
Following his military service, Tom attended Indiana State Teachers College, where he received an education degree. While there, he met Lois Thomas and they were married on May 30, 1959.
Tom’s first teaching job was at Riverside High School in Ellwood City, PA. He and Lois moved to Shelocta in 1963, when he got a job in the Indiana Area School District. He taught Social Studies at both the junior and senior high levels until his retirement in 1993. Because of his love of teaching, he continued as a substitute teacher in the school district for another 15 years. Tom touched many lives through his roles as teacher, coach, advisor, and mentor.
He was very active in community service and became a well-known member of many organizations and volunteer activities. Tom served on the Indiana Borough Council, Indiana Free Library Board, Welcome to Indiana Committee, Parks and Recreation Commission, Street Commission, and Shade Tree Commission. He served for 25 years as the stadium announcer for high school football games. One of his favorite activities was reading to young children, both at the library and local elementary schools. Tom was a volunteer with the American Red Cross and proudly donated 100 pints of blood.
He was a commissioned lay speaker for the Kiskimenitas Presbytery for 22 years and spoke at over 80 churches on a rotating basis. For ten years, he served as the director of Camp Lambec, a summer camp for the Presbyterian Church, located in North Springfield, PA.
Tom enjoyed travel adventures and crossword puzzles, and was a huge train enthusiast and Jeopardy fan. He loved sitting on his front porch and was a fixture of Third Street. Tom was well-liked and respected by all who worked with or spent time with him, and was always known for having a good joke to share.
Most important to him was his family, which he regarded as his greatest accomplishment and treasure. Tom is survived by his wife of 61 years, Lois; two daughters: Susan (Richard) Stitt and Karen Mathe; four grandsons: Shane (Shelly) Stitt, Kevin (Janelle) Mathe, Steven Stitt, and Mark Mathe; and three great-grandchildren: Madelyn and Kennedy Stitt and Ryan Mathe. Tom is also survived by his sister-in-law, Jeri Harris, and many nieces, nephews, and cherished friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents, an infant sister, two brothers: R.W. Harris III and Donald Harris, sister-in-law Katherine Harris, and nephew R.W. Harris IV.
Donations in Tom’s memory may be made to the Indiana Free Library, 845 Philadelphia Street, Indiana, PA 15701 or the Visiting Nurse Association/Hospice of Indiana County, 850 Hospital Road, Ste, 3000, Indiana, PA 15701.
His family would like to thank all of those who visited or sent heartfelt thoughts and fond memories to him during the last months of his life, and to his care team who provided comfort and support to him and the entire family.
A memorial gathering with the family will take place from 5p.m. to 8p.m. on Friday, September 18, 2020 at the John A. Lefdahl Funeral Home. As per CDC recommendations, masks and social distancing will be required.
A private memorial service for immediate family and friends will be held on Saturday, September 19, 2020 at the Shelocta Presbyterian Church. Those who wish to attend the service remotely may register at: https://bit.ly/3itScn8. You will receive the links needed to attend the Memorial Service (a direct click link as well as a dial-in number for those who don't need to see, but wish to hear). Those joining via Zoom will not be able to offer remembrances, but will get to hear the remembrances of those who are present in the sanctuary. There will also be an option to listen via FM transmitter for those in the local area who wish to sit in their cars in church parking lot to listen to the service. You would tune to FM 90.1 while parked in the lot by the church to be able to hear the service.
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