It is with great sadness that the family of Bill L. Harris of Sand Springs announce his passing on Wednesday, August 28, 2019, at the age of 82.
Born in Cushing, Oklahoma on July 28, 1937, Bill established his love of music, playing the trumpet in his high school band, then at OSU, where he pledged Sigma Chi fraternity and received his Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree. During his junior year in 1957, he married his high school sweetheart, Carolyn Minnix. After graduating, Bill became band director at Haskell High School for two years, and then in 1961 moved to Sand Springs six weeks after his first son, Sam was born. He became band director at Charles Page High School, taking a nine-month sabbatical in 1964 to obtain his Master's Degree at the University of New Mexico, where he was also assistant marching and concert band director. He resumed teaching at CPHS until 1969, three years after his second son, Matt was born. He often said that his teaching years were the most fulfilling time of his life. Many of his "band kids" have remained in touch and credit him with deeply affecting and directing their lives, and were able to pay tribute at his 80th surprise birthday party in 2017. It was then when Bill remarked that it was they who had so deeply affected his life.
After leaving teaching, Bill worked for TV Channel 8 (selling advertising time) for one year before taking a gamble that would redirect his life. He opened "The Music Store", where instruments of all kinds were sold. The first store was in Sand Springs, and then, in partnership with fellow ex-band director and friend, Paris York, they opened stores in Tulsa, Broken Arrow, and Fayetteville, Arkansas. After ten successful years, Bill sold his half to Paris to pursue yet another ambitious dream in his career real estate development.
He began acquiring land that included building a shopping center on Charles Page Blvd., where he opened and operated the businesses: "International Tours Travel Agency", "Pickles" (a video store), "Yummy's" (an ice cream store) and a successful franchise of "Goldie's Patio Grill".
Bill had an affinity for golf, playing cards, and slot machines! (The Osage Casino should name a wing after him!) He could always be counted on for a good (often blue) joke, his infectious laugh, and his solemn advice. His love of family was first in his heart, and seeing his sons perform their music filled him with tremendous pride. But it was playing the role of grandfather (known as "Bubba") to Halen Harris (Matt's daughter) and Cooper Harris-Jacobsen (Sam's son), as well as great-grandfather to Ari Seiwell, (Halen's son), that brought him his greatest joy.
Bill and Carolyn shared a loving marriage for sixty-one years until his death. They traveled extensively around the country and abroad. She was his constant, his cohort, and caretaker. She was everything to him. He is also survived by his sister, Betty Orr; his nephews, Blaine, Blake and Brent Orr; his niece-in-law, Cathy Candler, and their families; his Harmon and Harris cousins; his aforementioned sons and grand/great grandchildren; as well as Jon Seiwell, (Ari's father); and his son-in-law, Danny Jacobsen.
Bill's life on this earth may be over, but the legacy of his purpose and the many people who were deeply affected by him will live on and on.
It was Bill's wish that instead of a service, that his family and friends celebrate him with a party, which will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his name to the Charles Page High School Band Fund. Checks payable to CPHS with the notation: Bill Harris Band Fund, and mailed to Kyle Wright c/o CPHS, 500 Adams Road, Sand Springs, OK 74063.