Thermopolis Independent Record - Your source for news in Hot Springs County

Virgil R. Harris

 

Virgil R. Harris

Lifelong resident, Virgil R. Harris, 85, passed away May 31, 2022, at the Thermopolis Rehabilitation and Care Center where he received excellent care the past three years.     

Virgil was born in Thermopolis, Wyo., on November 21, 1936, the second of three sons of Dave and Helen (Nicholson) Harris. Growing up, he loved riding horses on the ranch and helping his Great Uncle Charlie work the cattle. After a physical day of cowboying, he frequently grabbed a fishing pole with buddies and headed for the river. He even had some stories about riding his horse to school.

He attended the Thermopolis school system and excelled in athletics. A three-sport letterman in football, basketball, and track, he was a starter on the 1954 Class "A" Bobcat basketball team that won the overall Wyoming state championship against much bigger "AA" Rock Springs. He was the captain of the football and basketball teams as a senior, President of the letterman's club (T-Club) and was voted "Best Athlete" by his high school classmates. After graduating high school in 1955, he received basketball scholarships to attend Sheridan College and later Wayne State Teachers College in Wayne, Neb. 

Virgil's love for sports continued after college. Over a period of 60 years, he estimated attending more than 750 high school football and basketball games. For twenty of those years, he officiated football and basketball, giving back to the sports he loved. In 2009, Virgil and his 1954 Basketball Team were inducted into the Bobcat Athletic Hall of Fame. He received the 2015 Greatest Wyoming High School Football Fan award from The National Football Foundation, Wyoming Chapter.

On September 16, 1956, he married his high school sweetheart Joan Stout. They remained in Thermopolis and raised their family, son (Randy) and two daughters (Rhonda and Heidi). Virgil and Joan spent many hours following their children's pursuits including football, basketball, golf, track, cheerleading, band, and other school activities.

Virgil enjoyed a career in wholesale distribution spanning nearly 30 years. Much of that time was spent with Wyoming based Cream of the Valley Dairy and their local operation serving Thermopolis and surrounding communities. He later worked for filmmaker Eastman's Outdoor World, marketing amazing wildlife movies to movie stores in seven states. Prior to his retirement in 1998, Virgil was the Cemetery Sexton for the Hot Springs Cemetery District for 12 years.

Virgil had many other hobbies and interests. He was an avid fisherman, hunter, and golfer, (even carding a hole-in-one at the Thermopolis Golf Course). He enjoyed most any activity where he could be outdoors in his beloved state of Wyoming. He and Joan were frequent supporters at University Wyoming Cowboy football games in Laramie. He was also very active in the First Baptist Church where he served on several church committees and was a deacon for many years.  Easter Sundays would find Virgil in the kitchen cooking pancakes or other duties for their early Sunday breakfasts. He also drove the Church van on Sunday morning to pick up folks around town who needed transportation to Church. He was a member of the Elks Club and a volunteer worker for the annual "3 on 3 Hoop Shoot" tournament. He loved playing with his grandkids and spending time with family.

 He is survived by his wife, Joan, of Thermopolis; son, Randy, of Rapid City, S.D .; daughters, Rhonda (Ron) Erickson of Spearfish, S.D., and Heidi (Shane) Gledhill, of Scottsdale, Ariz .; seven grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; three nieces; and two nephews.

 Preceding Virgil in death were his parents, Dave and Helen Harris; brothers, Keith and Rodney; and one niece.

Memorial services are pending. Mortimore Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements. Online messages may be offered at http://www.mortfh.com.

 

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