Robert Kimberly Harris
Lebanon, N.H. — Robert Kimberly Harris of Lebanon, passed away in the company of loved ones at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center on Tuesday, March 18, 2014, from complications of melanoma.
He was born Feb. 20, 1955, in Denver, Colo., to Marlene Grace Riede and Robert Lee Harris. Robert was married Aug. 20, 1988, in Claremont, N.H., to Mary Dorothy Maxfield at her parents’ home, and on Aug. 24, 2013, they celebrated their twenty-fifth anniversary at their home with their son Joseph Maxfield Harris, their daughter Rigel Maxfield Harris, Robert’s parents, and many members of their large, extended family.
Robert’s childhood was spent primarily in Carmel, Calif., where his love for the sea was born. After graduating from Carmel High School in 1973, he attended University of California-Santa Cruz, where he studied biology and environmental science, graduating in the class of 1977. After studying at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks and participating in field work at the university’s marine station in Seward, he graduated with a master’s degree in fisheries oceanography in 1985. Although Alaska and its grand wilderness and gentle, independent people were a paradise for Robert, he eventually decided to leave, though he thought it would be for only one year. Dry years in his chosen field of environmental consulting in Alaska led Robert to explore the lead of a Christian Science Monitor article about the Upper Valley Teacher Training Program, and he arrived in Lebanon, in 1986. Mutual friends led to his meeting and ultimately marrying Mary and—to the surprise of many—setting down roots in the Upper Valley.
For the next 25 years, Robert Harris taught biology at Hartford High School in White River Junction, Vt. He was passionate about his subject, always having several books on various biology-related topics, especially evolution, open by his chair and bed at once. He recently participated with a team of scientists conducting Arctic studies, thus enabling him the opportunity to model the importance of scholarly pursuits and life-long learning. He cared deeply about his students and education in general. At Hartford, Robert was surrounded by caring, supportive colleagues whose friendship was always an important part of his life, but especially once it became clear that he would need to leave his work for medical reasons.
Robert enjoyed life thoroughly, supporting Joe and Rigel’s interests in sports and the arts as they were growing up; hiking and camping with his family; reading and discussing baseball, history, science, and politics with his family and friends; and sharing morning coffee with Mary. He was an enthusiastic baseball umpire and football referee at area schools and an active volunteer with the Lebanon City Recreation Commission.
Survivors include Mary, Joe, and Rigel; parents, Marlene and Jerry Harner of Lincoln, Calif; sister, Laura Pavloff and husband, Victor of Big Sur, Calif.; brother, Brian Harris of Los Banos, Calif.; sister, Mary Plassmann of Olathe, Kan.; nieces and nephews; cousins; in-laws; and close friends in California, Alaska, and the Upper Valley. Robert was predeceased by his father, Robert Lee Harris, and his father-in-law, Robert Guion Maxfield.
Family and friends are invited to memorial calling hours at the Hanover Friends Meetinghouse, 43 Lebanon St., Hanover, N.H. on Friday, April 4, 2014, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. An online guest book is available to leave a message of remembrance by visiting www.rickerfuneralhome.com.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to the new nonprofit group Friends of Lebanon Recreation and Parks. Donations going to this group will be funding local parks projects that Robert has been interested in pursuing over the years. Interested donors can make checks payable to “FOLRP”, PO Box 369, Lebanon, NH 03766.