Robert (Bob) Dale Harris was born in Akron, OH and died at age 80 on March 6, 2022 in Tucson, AZ. His worn-out, much-used heart gave up after a lifetime of sharing his humor and love with a legion of friends, family, and cats.
Born to Evelyn (Null) and Gilbert Harris, Bob grew up in Sawyerwood, OH. Gilbert worked at a rubber company and was sometimes paid his bonus in condoms, which Bob would blow up to scare his babysitters. As a teen, Bob worked with Gilbert in their printing business, selling advertising novelties.
Bob attended the University of Akron on a Latin scholarship (which he lost after a year), later joining the Air Force Reserves. He worked his way through college, eventually earning a chemistry degree. Along the way, he met Linda (Hout) on a blind date. If a gentleman brought his date home after curfew at the dorm, it was customary for him to give her flowers as an apology. Bob brought Linda home late so often that he bought her artificial flowers that would cover many late nights.
Bob and Linda married in 1965 and started their family right away. Christopher, Susan and Matthew were born in quick succession in Akron. After Bob began working for IBM and relocated the family to Somerset, NJ, Jennifer joined the family. A few years later, IBM moved the family again, this time to San Jose, CA. While working for IBM, Bob was proud to receive a patent for a type of ink that could not be photocopied.
The family took up tent camping and, after being snowed in with four small children on one trip to northern California, Bob began a life-long love of RVing. With an orange- and red-striped mini-Winnebago, Bob took his family on weekend camping trips as well as month-long cross-country trips to see family, stopping at every brown sign along the way. Along with the RVing came a passion for CB radios. Bob’s handle, Buckeye, was a tribute to his Ohio roots.
Bob never met a piece of technology he didn’t like (or think he needed) and was hooked on computers early on. At one point, the family voted on whether to buy a computer or a sewing machine. The computer won, but only because the youngest voter was bribed.
Once again, IBM moved the family, this time to Tucson, AZ where Bob (briefly) embraced the western aesthetic with cowboy hats, boots, and bolo ties. He continued to be an active parent, attending concerts and band booster meetings, cooking for youth retreats at church, and hosting the kids and their friends for marathon games of Shanghai on New Years Eve.
In 1988, Bob lost Linda to a long battle with breast cancer. He was a dedicated caregiver throughout her struggle.
Bob retired from IBM, married Pat (Gaynor) and moved to Santa Clara, CA to work with Chris in his computer business. A few years later, Bob and Pat returned to Tucson to start Bopat, a computer training business specializing in training kids. Bob soon learned that the kids did not need training but the curriculum was perfectly suited for seniors and veterans and shifted to focus on those markets.
In 1995, Bob suffered another loss when Pat passed away from ovarian cancer.
Bob’s love of RVs continued and brought him to Cynthia (Cindy) Ballard. They married in 1997 and enjoyed many years together traveling the country in their RV, visiting kids and grandkids, meeting new people, and seeing the sights. Bob loved getting set up in a campsite then walking around to introduce himself to his new neighbors, a habit that appalled the kids when they were teens but that Cindy tolerated.
As they slowed down and left the RV life behind, Bob and Cindy built community ties at Mount Zion Lutheran Church where they facilitated GriefShare classes for 10 years and Bob was the systems administrator. Along with his buddies, the GNOMZ (Gun Nuts of Mount Zion), he enjoyed going to the shooting range, having breakfast after church, and telling questionable jokes.
Cindy and Bob moved to The Echelon of Tucson where they built community and enjoyed being at the loudest table in the dining hall and sitting on the patio with their friends.
Bob struggled with health issues for much of his life and was blessed to have Cindy by his side, providing not only love and support but skilled care. While recent strokes took away some of his mobility, he never lost his sense of humor or his love for Cindy, his kids and his grandkids.
Bob is survived by his wife, Cindy; children Christopher (JoAnna) Harris of California, with their children: Patrick, Veronica and Camden; Susan (Vinnie) Roscigno of Ohio, with their children: Auden and Saverio (Sam); Matthew (Christina) Harris of Texas, with their daughter: Emmi; and Jennifer (Adrian) Clarke of Texas, with their children: Dylan and Riley; along with nieces and their children; and his beloved cat, Maggie. Bob was preceded in death by his mother, Evelyn, his father, Gilbert, his first wife, Linda, and his second wife, Pat.
A short memorial service will be held at Mount Zion Lutheran Church on Sunday, March 20, 2022 at 1:00 pm. A larger celebration of life will be held later in the summer in Akron, OH. Everyone who remembers him is asked to celebrate Bob’s life in their own way. Raising a glass of their favorite drink or having a piece of coconut cream pie in his memory would be quite appropriate as would doing an act of kindness for a stranger.
Donations in his memory may be made to Mount Zion Lutheran Church or your favorite charity. No flowers please! He was never able to keep a plant alive and wouldn’t want to continue that tradition after he passed.
He’s humming along with the angels now.