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JAMES (JIM) STEWART HARRIS
Born: Sep 12, 1932
Date of Passing: Dec 20, 2021Send Flowers to the Family Offer Condolences or Memory
JAMES (JIM) STEWART HARRIS
September 12, 1932 December 20, 2021
We are greatly saddened by the sudden passing of our beloved Jim, in his 90th year, on the evening of December 20, 2021, in the Stonewall Hospital.
Deeply grieving are his wife of 68 years, Helen, daughters, Leslie Patterson (Rick), Kathy Keon (Greg), and son Cal (MaryEllen). He was predeceased by son Gordie (Daphne) on December 19, 2011. His children were a source of great pride, joy, and comfort throughout his life.
Jim was also predeceased by his brother Ted (Agnes), sister Wilda (Vernon) Jones, niece Darlene Jones Berubé and nephew Scottie Harris. Siblings surviving him are sisters, Donna Baldwin (Kev deceased), Carol Nichol (Dan) and brother George (Barb).
Forever missing Grandpa are nine grandchildren, 17 great-grandchildren and dozens of children throughout his life (many now grown with children of their own) who called him Grandpa Jim. He had a magical way of connecting with every child he met.
Jim was born September 12, 1932, his birth certificate location reading NE ¼ section 36-12-1W Rosser, Manitoba. His parents, Charlie and Emma (Moore) were both descendants of early Manitoba pioneer farming families and it was through the common struggle and joys of farm life that he absorbed the values of hard work, love of animals and love of the land. One of his sayings to his children as they were growing up was, "Someday you're going to have to do something you don't want to do", perhaps learned so well as a youth on the farm.
Having been born into the community of Grosse Isle nine days apart, no one can be sure when he first met his wife Helen Borthistle, but it surely must have been in the early 1930s at some social function in the local gathering place the upper floor of the old Red Brick School. Attending that dear old school, mutual attraction grew, and they were married in August 1953.
After leaving school Jim took up the trade of plastering and stuccoing, later becoming the trade instructor at the then Manitoba Technical Institute. When plastering gave way to drywall he was hired as salesman/trouble shooter for Westroc Industries. He later worked for Provincial Drywall. On a cold wet pre-dawn morning in the fall, he would leave a cozy, comfortable bed, get appropriately dressed and go out into the middle of a field somewhere and dig a muddy hole (called a hide) for a customer to whom he had promised a good goose-shoot that morning.
A family home was built on a small acreage in Grosse Isle in 1956. His talent for creating decorative coved ceilings and archways is preserved well there. Inevitably a barn soon appeared on the property and the children grew up enriched by the experience of life on a farm with a variety of farm birds and animals.
He partnered with his brother George in running the family farm, purchasing farmland, fondly referred to as "The Ponderosa". On this land is located a large slough which has been converted to a protected wetland.
Jim was an enthusiastic competitor in any sport he played or coached. In his early 20s, with family to support, he gave up hockey for curling. The pinnacle was reached in 1985 when as a member of the Senior Men's Manitoba championship team he was able to experience the excitement and pride of playing for Manitoba in the Canadian Senior Men's Championship in Yorkton.
He never shirked hard or dirty work, one time coming home from the hall looking particularly dishevelled and soiled from top to bottom. He revealed he had been in the crawl space under the hall looking for a plumbing malfunction. He was asked if he thought he would be given a medal for doing such a thing. Amazingly, Queen Elizabeth gave him a Diamond Jubilee medal for volunteerism.
Always a salesman he could even sell an idea, the greatest one being the saving of the iconic Ridgeway House and moving it to what would become the Heritage Site in Grosse Isle as an attraction for the passengers disembarking from the Prairie Dog Central each summer weekend. With the overwhelming support and energetic volunteers, it was refurbished and dedicated on the site in 2011. Several more heritage buildings have been added. In the process many strong friendships have been formed between members of our community and the wonderful people of the Vintage Locomotive Society and the dedicated volunteers who run the Prairie Dog Central.
Jim was fondly dubbed "the mayor", "the chief" and had become the chief skunk eradicator of the town and surrounding area.
He was a mischievous "provocateur extraordinaire", an agitator to get important things done (preferably on "Jimmy time") and a fighter in every way. During his greatest fight with cancer, he became a source of hope, support, and comfort for the many others he knew with cancer.
A Celebration of Life will be held when feasible. Jim's final resting place will be at the St. Michael's Anglican Church cemetery near Grosse Isle, a few yards from where he was born.
The family is forever grateful for the kindness of the paramedics, hospital staff and Dr. Pinniger on the day of his passing and to Dr. Wong and all at CancerCare Manitoba where Jim made many friends.
Donations in Jim's memory can be made to the Grosse Isle Heritage Site Inc, Box 34, Grosse Isle, MB, R0C 1G0 or a charity of one's choice.
Ken Loehmer Funeral Services 204-886-0404
As published in Winnipeg Free Press on Jan 08, 2022
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