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Stanley "Stan" Harris '73 December 11, 2020 12:26 PM updated: December 11, 2020 12:47 PM

Stanley K. Harris
July 1, 1934 - November 24, 2020

Stanley Koloc Harris, DVM slipped from these earthly bonds Tuesday Morning, November 24, 2020; his soul to peacefully rest until called by his Lord.

Born on the first day of July 1934 in Bernard, Iowa to George Francis Harris and Augusta Josefa (Kolocova) Harris, respectively a Scotts-Irish carpenter and lumberyard manager and a Czechoslovakian immigrant in charge of everything else, Stan was an only child. After 14 years of marriage and aged 41 at his birth, Augusta’s Edwardian sensibilities deemed the child a miracle of God.

Stan grew up with Jack Armstrong, Wheaties, and the War. His childhood was punctuated by numerous moves throughout eastern Iowa, as his father took on growing responsibilities with Great Plains Lumber Company. He had a pony named Smokey, a German shepherd, Lionel trains, and a complete collection of Red Rider comic books. He learned to play piano, and to honor his mother’s heritage mastered Humoresque, No. 7 by the Czech composer Antonín Dvorák. Stan helped out at the lumber yards and practiced the family’s Roman Catholic faith. The boy eventually matriculated through Sacred Heart School, Monticello, Iowa in 1951 and without ever having access to a chemistry lab decided to enroll in the School of Veterinary Medicine at Iowa State College the coming fall.

Eschewing the distractions of dormitory or fraternity life Stan sought the least costly housing alternatives he could find. He worked any job available to help meet his academic expenses. At one point, he was partnered with a scholarship athlete to muck horse stalls each morning in the college barns. Every Friday he and his cohort presented to receive their checks, and Friday was the only time he ever saw his cohort.

One summer home from college, Stan and his father built the house on Cedar Street in Monticello, Iowa, where his mother and father would spend the rest of their lives together. It was the only house the couple ever owned.

Completing his veterinary studies in 1957, prior to his 23rd birthday, Stan elected to pursue a career in government with the United States Department of Agriculture and was assigned a station in Salem, Oregon. The journey west to this first professional position took place in his new ‘57 Ford on Route 66 to Santa Monica and then north on the Pacific Coast Highway. It would be the first of hundreds of monumental, often multi-state, and many times transcontinental road trips he would make over the next six decades.

That summer at the State Department of Agriculture office, a somewhat diminutive but firm and trim, occasionally stoic, sometimes sardonic, and remarkably engaging young veterinarian met a young secretary. She was a slender girl; brunette, confident, equally at ease in a Pendleton woolen skirt and blazer or in rolled-up Levi blue jeans and a white blouse. Concurrently or not, on Friday, the ninth of August Stan asked Billie Hyden for a Saturday date and shed the Ford for a cherry red MG-A convertible roadster. Owing to their priest’s plans to be away for an elk hunt, they married less than two years later, August 1, 1959 (instead of August 10th) at St. Joseph’s Parish – a spartan interpretation of Romanesque built just four years earlier – the entrance sheathed in Travertine; the alter in rose granite. The pair was in their 62nd year of love and labor for the benefit and security of one another, their family, and the communities in which they lived when Stan passed.

In 1961, Stan was assigned to new responsibilities as an epidemiologist working with TB-positive cattle herds in Pennsylvania, and took up residence in a two-story four-flat apartment in Camp Hill, where across the river in Harrisburg his 10-pound 8-ounce son was born on October 5th. Health insurance for Federal employees was somewhat new then, and optional. After the bill came for an emergency Caesarean procedure and the subsequent extended hospital stay, Stan opted for the insurance deduction.

Recognizing his potential for managing administrative as well as scientific responsibilities, the USDA next tasked Stan with undertaking a 9-month multistate training program requiring brief intensive assignments in various cities from east to west and back again. It was a nomadic lifestyle for the young family that concluded with an assignment in Boston, Massachusetts where a daughter was conceived in a two-story duplex on an idyllic suburban lane in the Newtons, to be born November 1, 1966.

The two-year assignment in New England as Assistant Veterinarian in Charge ended just after that Christmas and the family found themselves in southern Michigan where he took charge of all USDA veterinary activity for the lower four tiers of counties. Stan bought a contemporary ranch house on 20 acres in a rural setting across the road from Skiff Lake near Cement City – a twenty-minute drive to his office in Jackson in his newly-provided Plymouth “Government Car.” Now with a family of four, the MG-A was long gone, along with another Ford. The Beetle he bought on the training program would soon be replaced by a succession of two VW Microbuses; one beloved and one a lemon. Later that summer of ’67, Stan bought his infant daughter a ’57 Thunderbird.

In 1972 the USDA again resolved to invest in their employee, asking Stan to complete a master’s program in Veterinary Microbiology at Texas A&M University in College Station. Stan took the T-Bird to Texas in the summer, bought a spec house in a development littered with petrified wood, bought a ten-speed bike, and settled into University life. Billie spent the summer packing up the house for the movers. When the family reunited in August, Stan had scruffy curly hair and a beard, there were scorpions in the house and the moving van caught fire – remarkably damaging nothing except the kid’s bikes, two antique solid brass andirons and his father’s sterling-plate saxophone – all of which were never found again. Stan completed his graduate work in December 1973. In the course of his studies, he answered every examination correctly – typically ten correct answers were required for a perfect score, but twelve or thirteen questions might be provided to choose from. Stan would simply answer every question with clear spartan precision.

Demonstrating remarkable scientific discipline and organizational management skills, Stan was selected to participate in an interdepartmental foreign aid development project involving the USDA, the Department of State, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Without hesitation, Stan took his family to live in the Republic of Turkey (with leisurely layovers along the way in London and Rome) where he secured a spacious apartment in the hillside suburbs of Ankara. His assignment, ultimately complicated by the Cypriot Crisis and a Congress bickering over which of two Cold-War allies to favor in the conflict, was to consult with the government of Turkey and their animal scientists to develop methodologies and practices to eradicate and prevent epidemic disease in their agricultural animal industry. While overseas Stan travelled his family throughout Asia Minor and organized yet another epic road trip from Ankara to Germany via Soviet era Bulgaria and Yugoslavia, northern Italy, and Austria.

In the summer of 1976 Stan was called back to the States to take the first of several roles at the National Veterinary Services Labs (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa which functions in concert with the Center for Veterinary Biologics and the National Animal Disease Center to satisfy the nation’s requirements for animal health research, diagnosis, and product evaluation. When Stan elected to retire from government service in 1995, he was serving as director of both the Bacteriology and Virology Labs. He perfected a steady and resolute style of leadership and afforded his employees opportunities to excel. He was unanimously admired by those who worked for him as well as his colleagues. He had become an internationally recognized expert and leader in epidemiology.

With the children away from home seeking their own independence, Stan in retirement exercised his. He skied in Colorado, but eventually let the hobby go to ensure he did not injure himself and thus interfere with his love of motorcycling. Over the last three decades of his life, Stan logged thousands of hours and tens of thousands of miles on a dozen bikes of every make, style and displacement. He long favored his Harley Heritage Soft Tail and later, the Indian Scout. Stan rode everywhere in the continental US, even making it to the artic circle twice. He hit Sturgis for some 25 consecutive years.

Stan and Billie also travelled together, though not on the bike. They visited Africa, Europe, the Galapagos Islands, Hawaii, and Alaska. They visited wineries and revisited national parks. They visited and hosted friends and family. Through all the years of professional assignments and travel, Stan attracted lifelong friends wherever he went. He was interested in people, marveled at their talents, and downplayed his own. He admired artists. He loved, for instance, the music of Willie Nelson and occasionally mused about how a guy could be high on grass eighteen hours every day and yet be so brilliant. Stan visited his mother’s homeland twice, before and after retirement and before and after the disintegration of the Soviet Bloc. While he never cared much for leftist ideology, he did prefer the quiet and more somber tone of Prague in the ‘70s.

Stan was generous and charitable with his time and wallet. He picked up the tab, served as Scoutmaster, volunteered at the Story County Museum, participated in perpetual adoration of the host, supported the work of the Sisters of Saint Francis in Dubuque and both raised and contributed funds for the Veterinary Collage at Iowa State. He always tithed his Parish.

“Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.”
W. H Auden

“I shall not look upon his like again.”
William Shakespeare

Stan was preceded in death by his mother and father and their fourteen siblings, his mother and father-in-law, Jimmie and Ralph Hyden, and his daughter-in-law Gloria Davis Harris. Stan is survived by his wife Billie F. Harris of the home, son Stanley Jr. of Saint Joseph, Missouri, daughter Sara of Ames, Iowa and grandson Stuart A. Harris of Saint Joseph.

Mass of Christian Burial 10:30 a.m. Saturday, November 28, 2020, Saint Cecelia Parish, Ames, Iowa. Please mask; the sanctuary provides ample room for social distancing. Write the family at 935 Washington Street, Story City, Iowa 50248.

Memorials may be sent in honor of “Stanley K. Harris, D.V.M.” to the Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine or the Sisters of Saint Francis, Dubuque, Iowa. A celebration of life will be planned in 2021 upon easing of the social restrictions required by the pandemic.

With gratitude to Marc Soderstrum for arrangements via Adams & Soderstrum Funeral Home, Story City, Iowa.

Funeral Mass
Saturday, November 28, 2020
10:30AM - 11:30AM
St Cecilia Catholic Church
2900 Hoover Avenue
Ames, IA 50010

©2018 Soderstrum Reimers Inc.


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