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John Harris 1936 - 2020
John Harris

John Harris, 84, went to be with Jesus on Sept. 28, 2020, at his home in Great Bend surrounded by his whole family. He was the son of Merle and Emma Harris, born on Jan. 31, 1936. He was one of six children.  

John grew up enjoying the outdoors; fishing, hunting, farming and later, boating and more fishing.

John graduated from Mt. Hope High School in 1955. He started dating Carole Schoonover from Haven High School, starting his junior year in high school. While John was in high school, he met his Lord and was baptized at Mount Hope Methodist Church. Later, on Aug. 15, 1957, he married that high school sweetheart and they went to Hutchinson Community College, where John played football and was co-captain of the football team in 1957. From there they went onto Emporia State University, where he received his BSE in 1959. 

John’s first job was teaching in Carbondale, where he coached all three sports, taught history, shop and drivers education. In those days, “the coach” marked the football field and drove the players’ bus. 

Their summers were spent at Arkansas State University where they received their MSE degree the following two summers. It helped that ASU was so close to calm and beautiful, Lake Norfork. 

After two years in Carbondale, they moved to Partridge where John coached and taught from 1962-1964 (football and track). While in Partridge, John and Carole started their family. Pam was born in 1964. Then, as they moved to Goddard the rest of the family came along; Kim, 1967, Jenni, 1969 and Tammi in 1973. They made their home in Goddard for the next 12 years while John was coaching football and track and teaching Drivers Education and History. 

While in Goddard, he continued at Wichita State University to finish his Specialist in Education Administration. The next move was to Athletic Director in Goddard. 

Then in 1976, they moved to Great Bend, where John was the new Assistant Superintendent in charge of finance, and buildings and grounds. What a wonderful career followed at school, with further education, and teaching finance classes at FHSU and for KSU. The many years until his retirement went quickly and in 2004 he retired from USD 428. 

When the first child was born, they decided to make family vacation a priority. Each year, they would ask the girls where they wanted to go and it was always Table Rock Lake and Branson. They had many good times and good years together, as this family vacation continues as a tradition. John had many plans for fishing trips after retirement. He and Carole went to Alaska twice and British Columbia and Hawaii before his health became an issue. 

Survivors include his loving and devoted wife, Carole, of the home; four daughters, Pam Allender (Kendall) of Hutchinson, Kim Randall (Mark) of Great Bend, Jenni Wittig (Steve) of Great Bend and Tammi Krebaum (Kevin) of Salina; one brother, Joe Harris (Harriet); one sister, Amelia Lyon; two brother-in-laws, Jack Cole and Don Newton; 12 grandchildren, Erika Ewing (Harley) and their children Harley and Theodore, Erin Bernard (Jon), Zane Allender, Jackson Randall, Jensen Randall, Jaiden Randall (earning her angel wings in 2001), Johnathan Randall, Dustin Swanson (Melissa) and their children Rydlie, Lennex and Coda, Chantell Wittig (Jordan McKenzie), Kade Krebaum, Megan Krebaum and Julianna Krebaum. He was preceded in passing by three sisters, Audrey Stamback, Julia Cole, and Ellenna Newton; and by two brother-in-laws, James Stamback and Gary Lyon.

His family, these wonderful kids, grandkids and great grandkids were the love of his life. He didn’t ever want to miss being in on whatever sport or activity they were doing. The last two years, his health dictated that he couldn’t go, but he still kept up on what was happening. 

John was a generous, patient, loving, kind and caring husband, dad, grandpa, great grandpa and friend to so many wonderful people. John loved to tell stories that entertained his family and friends. Whether the stories be about the civil war, the wild, wild west or the latest fishing stories or football games, he entertained us all with his knowledge and wit. He was an avid reader of history and Civil War stories. John had many wonderful Doctors who helped along the way; Dr. Amanda Valiant, Dr. David Gile, Dr. Richard Preston, Dr. Greg Nanney, Dr. Jon Pike, and Dr. Ryan Beard to name the most recent. 

John was involved in the Heartland Community Church of Great Bend; past president of Great Bend Noon Lions Club; past president of KASBO (Kansas Association School Business Officials); and past president of USA (United School Administrators). He was inducted into Kansas Teachers Hall of Fame in Dodge City in 2003. 

Visitation will be held from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020, at Bryant Funeral Home, with family to receive friends from 6 to 8 p.m. John’s Celebration of Life will be held at 10 a.m., Friday, Oct. 2, 2020, at Heartland Community Church with Pastors Troy Miller and Greg Savage presiding. The family requests those in attendance to please wear masks. Interment will be in the Great Bend Cemetery North. Memorials are suggested to the Heartland Community Church or Barton County Food Bank, in care of Bryant Funeral Home. Condolences may be sent and notice viewed at

Funeral arrangements provided by

Bryant Funeral Home

1425 Patton Road

Great Bend, KS   67530

Great Bend (Kan.) Tribune, Sept. 30, 2020