Jun 7th 1950 - Jun 25th 2012
Charlene V. Harris was a loving, giving woman, who touched the lives of everyone who knew and loved her. She valued many things throughout her life, but none were more important than creating close relationships with the family she treasured so deeply. Charlene was a woman of great strength, who worked hard and persevered through trials that came her way, always remaining true to the joy that was in her heart.
The 1950s marked a quieter, more stable time in American history. It was a good time to grow up in America, and because of the Baby Boom, the schools and neighborhoods were bursting at the seams with children. Charlene was among those children. Born in Rockford, Michigan on June 7, 1950, she was one of six children to Robert and Gertrude Losey. Along with her siblings, Sally, Freeda, Claude, Susan and Huge, Charlene enjoyed a typical childhood of the time. She attended the Rockford Public Schools, and spent much of her leisure time riding horses and preparing for her 4-H events, both of which she loved. A real song bird, Charlene participated in the Glee Club in Rockford High School, where she graduated with the class of 1968. She then went on to attend the Tracey Academy for cosmetology, and after graduating, she took her first job at Dodson’s Beauty Salon in downtown Grand Rapids.
Charlene met the love of her life, Robert Harris, while “cruising” the circuit in downtown Grand Rapids. As fate would have it, the two fell in love, and after an 18 month courtship, they were happily married on June 12, 1971, in a church in Rockford. The newlyweds then settled into married life together in a house on Prospect Avenue in Grand Rapids. They lived here for 7 years and during that time they became the proud parents of two sons, Jeff (1974) and James (1976). Bursting at the seams, Robert and Charlene moved their family to Coopersville, where they created 25 years of wonderful memories with their family and friends. It was only about 5 years ago that Charlene and Robert moved to Allendale and reside today.
Time together as a family was always important to Charlene and Robert, and they took their boys on vacation every year, visiting places like Virginia, Washington, Niagara Falls, Pennsylvania, and going camping at Sandy Pines and Woods and Waters, both RV parks. Charlene absolutely loved to drive - come rain or shine! So much so, she got a job with Enterprise Car Company, working with a team to redistribute the rental cars throughout Michigan. With Charlene in the car, no one needed a GPS because she knew all the roads, backwards and forwards. When not traversing “Pure Michigan,” Charlene enjoyed baking and was known for her delicious fudge and homemade bread, which she shared with friends and neighbors around the holidays. On a night out, she loved to sing karaoke at the American Legion or grab some shots at National Pastime or the Pitt-Stop. Charlene was a collector of ink pens, angel figurines and Beanie Babies, and loved country music and watching Ghost Hunters. Above all though, Charlene loved to be surrounded by her family, and loved spending her time being a wife, mother, grandmother and sister to the people who brought her life immeasurable joy.
Although Charlene’s life was happy, she suffered with some health problems over the years. In 2002, she underwent a heart valve replacement and recovered nicely. Two years later, Charlene was diagnosed with breast cancer, and after a lumpectomy and chemotherapy, she went on to be cancer free for the last 7 years. Then, just this past April, Charlene was having pains in her back and side, and tests revealed that she had a tumor on her liver. A liver transplant was what the doctors’ recommended for Charlene, however, her health quickly began to diminish and it was apparent that nothing more could be done. Charlene was put under hospice care last Friday, and passed away on Monday evening, June 25, 2012, surrounded by her beloved family.
Nothing gave Charlene the greatest joy than sharing herself with her family, offering them the most precious thing she possessed – her time. It is a gift none of them will ever forget. Charlene was a loving wife, mother, grandmother, sister and a friend to all who knew her. She will be greatly missed.
Charlene is survived by her husband of 41 years, Robert Harris; her two sons, Jeff Harris, James (Melissa) Harris; her 3 grandchildren, Saige, Jade and Emmerald Harris; her siblings, Sally (Jeff) Wabindato, Freeda (George) Phillips, Claude (Von) Dulyea, Susan (Al) McMurray, Hugh (Terri) Dulyea; her brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, Tom (Sue) Harris, Jane (Gene) McBride Jr.; many nieces, nephews and friends.
Cremation has taken place. A service to celebrate Charlene’s life will be held on Friday, June 29, at 11:00 a.m. at Westwood Community Church, 2828 Richmond Street NW. Relatives and friends may meet her family on Thursday, June 28, from 7:00-9:00 p.m. at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW, Grand Rapids, and on Friday at the church from 10:00 a.m. until the service begins. Memorial contributions may be made to Gilda's Club or Spectrum Hospice. Please visit Charlene’s personal memory page at www.lifestorynet.com, where you may share a memory or photo and sign her guest book.