Alice L. Harris Obituary
Fairfield, MT -- Alice L. Harris, 96, died Monday, May 11, 2015, in Choteau, MT after a brief illness. Per her request, her ashes have been interred at Sunset Hills Cemetery, in Fairfield. Also in accordance with Alice's wishes, no services will be held. There will be a family reunion/memorial gathering in the future.
Alice was born February 15, 1919 in Grass Range, MT. There she attended the Three Butte grade school and graduated from Grass Range High School in 1937. She received a 2-year teaching diploma in 1939, a Bachelor's Degree in 1954, and a Master's Degree in 1962 from Western Montana College. She later attended Seattle Pacific College studying dyslexia and special learning disabilities.
Her teaching career began in Fallon County at a country school near Baker. She spent a year at Mill Iron School near Ekalaka and also taught at Spring Valley and Golden Ridge near Fairfield -- all country schools. She then moved to Toole County to teach at Green Hill, Ferdig, Oilmont, O'loughlin, and in Liberty County before settling in Shelby. She spent the last 27 years of her teaching career in Shelby educating several generations of her beloved second graders. She taught a total of 35 years and six summers, which included special help for children with reading problems.
Alice joined the women making contributions in World War II. This excerpt is taken from the Great Falls Daily Leader, Monday Evening, August 2, 1943. "Miss Alice Harris, turntable operator at the Great Northern roundhouse and shops, spins locomotives around and sets them on the right track with the turn of a lever." The article goes on to say that "She's attractive and engineers, shacks, hostlers and office workers go out of their way a little to say "Hi, Alice." Miss Harris taught school at the Golden Ridge School near Fairfield before taking up railroading to do her part for the war effort. She likes her job and is an expert at swinging onto locomotives and jumping off to set a switch . . . but not the kind of switches women talk about in beauty parlors." ". . . and doing this has developed muscle - so the Golden Ridge kids had better toe the line next fall when she quits railroadin' to go back to another very essential occupation - teaching the youngsters."
After retiring, Alice pursued a career in art and became an accomplished oil painter. As a constant reminder of all the places where she had lived and traveled, she saved them on canvas. Her collection exceeds 200 paintings, and several of them are on display in various, local businesses, homes, churches, and in other locations and towns.
Alice belonged to various organizations including Delta Kappa Gamma, an honorary teachers' society; and the Order of Eastern Star, Chapter 113. While in her 90s, she volunteered one day a week at the Shelby Tourist Center greeting people from all over. She enjoyed visiting with them, helping them plan daily excursions, and alerting them to local events and tourist attractions.
She was preceded in death by her parents, David and Louise Harris; her brothers, David and Frank Harris, all of Fairfield; a brother, Floyd Harris of Grass Range; and sisters-in law, Lorraine Harris (Floyd) and Edna Mae Harris (Frank.)
She is survived by sister-in-law, Alvina Harris (Dave) of Fairfield, 10 nieces and nephews, and several generations of their families: Loretta Dengel of Billings; Judy Cox (Gary) of Ray, North Dakota; Bill Harris and David Harris (Teri) of Winnett; Patti Ortega (Jim) of Payette, Idaho; Richard Harris (Karla) of Zimmerman, Minnesota; Candace Roberts (Gary) of Fairfield; Marlene Campbell (Mike) of Lawrence, Kansas; Donna Harris of Signal Hill, California; and Sue Banis (LeRoy) of Fairfield. Alice will also be remembered and missed by her special friends: Bernice McPhillips, Brenda and Monica Gilmore, Trudy Walker, Debbie Weaver, and her loving cat, Tobey.
Her extraordinary life was defined by her endurance, her hearty independence, her compassion for animals, helping where she could, and self-discipline. Her special love and concern was trying to care for abandoned animals - especially cats.
Aunt Alice's family is grateful for the excellent care and love she received while living at Front Range Assisted Living in Fairfield. She considered it her home and all the residents and caring staff as a part of her family. Thank you for making her last "earthly" home such a warm and wonderful experience.
Donations and memorial suggestions include Bright Eyes Animal Rehab in Choteau and St. Luke's Lutheran Church in Shelby.
Condolences for the family may be posted online at www.gorderjensenfuneralhome.com