Robert (Bob) Lee Harris, 79, passed away April 28, 2015 due to complications from an accidental fall. He was a devoted husband, father and grandfather. Bob was born in Oologah, OK, on Dec. 26, 1935. He was preceded in death by his mother and father, Melvin Robert Harris and Margaret Elizabeth Harris, sister Wanda Lou Jones and daughter Leisa Ann Harris. Bob is survived by Roberta his loving wife of almost 58 years, children Angela G. Harris, John R. Harris, Janice L. (Mark) Harper, Cynthia A. (David) O’Brien; grandchildren Tess E. Harper, Emma L. Harper, Colin R. O’Brien, Kiera A. O’Brien, Keely M. O’Brien, and Chloe E. O’Brien. He is also survived by sisters, Patricia R. Pinson of Tucson, AZ and Doris F. (Jerral) Brazeal of Kennett, MO, brother-in-law Johnny Jones of Claremore, OK, and many nieces and nephews.
Bob grew up in Oologah, Oklahoma. During his youth, he earned money by working as a ranch hand including stints on Will Rogers Ranch herding cattle and breaking horses. Bob could frequently be seen around town riding his beloved horse Poor Bones to and from school, delivering newspapers, and participated in calf roping contests at local events. Later on he found that he excelled at basketball and was the starting forward for the Oologah High basketball team.
In 1954, he graduated from Oologah High School and received a full-ride basketball scholarship to Northeastern Oklahoma University (NEO) in Miami, OK. While attending NEO, he was a member of the Oklahoma Air National Guard in the Fighter Interceptor Squadron. He then attended Northeastern State University (NSU) in Tahlequah, OK on another full-ride basketball scholarship. He graduated with a Mathematics Degree and a Minor in Physics and Physical Education in 1958.
He began his professional career in Towanda, Ks at Circle High School in 1958 teaching Mathematics and coaching basketball, baseball, and track. While living in Towanda, he continued his passion for basketball by playing with a semi-pro team in Wichita Kansas. In 1962, Bob received a government grant to serve as the representative from the State of Kansas to study “New Math” at the University of Virginia. Later he implemented the transition to “New Math” in the state of Kansas. In 1965, the family moved to Olathe, Ks where Bob began teaching Mathematics and coaching basketball at Shawnee Mission West High School. He finished his master’s degree at the University of Kansas in 1967. Concurrently, he worked for the City of Overland Park, KS from 1964 to 1994 as the Aquatics Supervisor, planning the building and then managing all the City’s swimming pools and staff. Bob also developed a swimming pool consulting and repair business where he managed pools for housing complexes. Bob retired from the city in 1994, and then retired from the Shawnee Mission School District in 1995.
Bob had many hobbies throughout his life, including fishing - a top priority during the fishing season, hunting, boating, water skiing, snow skiing, tennis racquetball, golf, playing bridge, swimming, reading, travel, watching all sports (especially Jayhawk basketball), and controlling the television remote control. He was also a member of the American Legion. One of his greatest joys in life was spending time with family, friends, and grandchildren. Bob was passionate about planning parties for his wife, Roberta to orchestrate. He enjoyed entertaining his friends and family at his famous events including the Kentucky Derby and Fish Fry parties.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions to the American Heart Association,6800 93rd St, Overland Park, KS 66212.