Harris Lee Gordon


Posted: Sunday, February 10, 2002

Homer resident Harris Lee Gordon died Friday, Feb. 8, 2002. He was 96.

Mr. Gordon will be buried in Hickerson Cemetery in a private service. There will be a memorial service at 2 p.m. March 3 at the Christian Community Church in Homer. Pastor Ray Arno will officiate.

Mr. Gordon was born March 24, 1906, in Fort Wayne, Ind. to Forrest and Nell Gordon. Shortly after his birth, his parents moved to Washington and he was raised in the Seattle area. He graduated from Garfield High School in 1924 and came to Alaska to visit relatives and work in the herring fishery for two summers. He spent the winter in Kasilof hunting for fox food for his cousin's fox farm. He then went back to Seattle to attend the University of Washington but dropped out due to illness. He moved to California in 1926 and worked for Union Oil Co. as a gauger for 10 years. During this time, he met Thelma Pratt of Paynesville, Minn., and the two were married June 8, 1931. While in California, twins Joan and Joyce and son Galen were born.

In 1936, his family moved to Alaska where they bought a 160-acre homestead and fox farm in Homer through his brother-in-law, Sam Pratt. His daughter, Sherry, was born within a year of their arrival. In 1937, he started to work summers as a heavy equipment operator for the Alaska Roads Commission. In 1951, he began working for the Department of Transportation, from which he retired in 1970. In 1941 and 1942 he drove a dump truck on the construction site of the Homer Airfield. He was a commercial fisher during the summers of 1944 through 1948. He and Thelma owned the Heady Hotel (now the Heritage Hotel) from 1958 to 1972.

After retiring in 1970, he and Thelma built a home in Hawaii, where they spent several months each year. During this time they traveled extensively to foreign countries, including Israel, Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain and Mexico, as well as several trips within the United States.

Mr. Gordon was a member of the Masons while he was in California and the National Guard during World War II. He was involved in getting electrical service to Homer, forming the Public Utility District and founding the Homer Public Library. He was a member of the Pioneers of Alaska and an active member of the Christian Community Church where he served as an elder for many years. He was a charter member of the board of Alaska Village Missions and served for over 30 years.

In his spare time he loved to read about faraway places and different people of the world. He loved to work with his wife in the garden and was always willing to help with building or maintenance projects for his family or church, his family said.

"He was a great man of integrity and was widely respected by the community. We will remember him for his love of the Lord, the love of his family, and for his Christian example and steadfast faith. He came to know his Savior as an adult and walked closely with Him ever since. He was greatly loved by his family and will be greatly missed," his family said.

Mr. Gordon was preceded in death by a daughter and son-in-law, Joyce and Larry Farnen; one great-grandson, Jace Erickson; and a son-in-law, Richard Ithal.

He is survived by his wife of 70 years, Thelma; two daughters, Joan

(Brant) Edens of Homer and Sherry Ithal of Anchorage; one son, Galen (Arlene) Gordon of Homer; 14 grandchildren; 22 great-grandchildren and numerous other relatives and friends.

Arrangements were made by Homer Funeral Home.

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