Life Story / Obituary
William Clarke Harris M.D., age 93, was born to eternal life on Wednesday, January 6th, 2016.
Bill (Doc) was born on July 22nd, 1922, to Florence (Clarke) and Frank Harris in Wilmington, Delaware, where he was raised alongside his brother Frank Jr. His family moved to Racine in July of 1934 when his father obtained a job running a local foundry.
Bill graduated with Honors from Washington Park High School in 1940 and went on to work at Massey Harris Co. in Racine while attending college. Bill met Joyce E. Thome during this time, who also worked as an executive secretary at Massey. They began to date and then shortly after graduating college, Bill enlisted in the US Navy and served as a Captain of a PT boat during WWII. On September 18, 1944, Bill married Joyce while on leave from his duty.
When Bill finished his active service time, he continued to serve in the reserves and came back to Racine. Shortly thereafter, Bill and Joyce moved to Philadelphia where Bill graduated with Honors from Temple University Medical School, specializing in surgery. After graduation, he once again returned to Racine and completed his medical residency in Milwaukee. Bill went on to be a founding member of Kurten Medical Group in Racine and served as Chief of Staff at St. Mary’s Hospital throughout the 1980s. He continued his medical profession, still conducting surgeries until he was 70 and finally retiring at age 72. Dr. Harris was known for making house calls and taking care of his patients well into his retirement.
As a child, Bill grew fond of horses and carried that passion and his love of riding and farming throughout his adulthood. In 1966, Bill bought his first two horses, which would be the start of Sunny Oak Farm, a thriving thoroughbred racehorse farm. During his leisure time, Bill and his children enjoyed riding together and attending the annual Thanksgiving Day Hunt at the Ehrlich Farm in Racine. He was one of the founding members of the Racine County Pony Club, an equestrian organization for local youth. In the early 1970s, Bill expanded his thoroughbred operation and moved to Yorkville with his family. Later, he bought a farm in Kentucky which is now owned and operated by his daughter, Carol. In addition to running the farm, Bill was an avid “scratch” golfer, winning several state Medical Association golfing tournaments. Bill also served on countless boards for local organizations and was an active member of the Racine community throughout his life.
He will be dearly missed by his loving wife of seventy-one years, Joyce; his children, Susan (Robert) Ruland, Sally Harris, Bruce (Mary Claire) Harris, Carol Ricker, Scott Harris, Marcia (Michael) Gauger, Nancy (Keith) Grayson; 14 grandchildren; nieces, nephews, other relatives and many dear friends. In addition to his parents he was preceded in death by his brother, Frank L. Harris Jr.
A Memorial Service with Full Military Honors will be held Saturday, January 16, 2016, 2:00 P.M. at the funeral home with Deacon Russell Missureli officiating. Relatives and friends may meet with the family Saturday at the funeral home from 1:00 P.M. until time of service at 2:00 P.M. Memorials to the Alzheimer's Association or Parkinson's Association have been suggested.
In memory and in honor of Dr. Harris, please extend an act of kindness to someone in need.