The year ended on a sad note for many people in the Harbour Grace area as they mourn the death of a beloved citizen, musician, volunteer and gentleman.
Herman Harris, 83, died Friday at the Carbonear General Hospital after a brief illness.
As the news of his death spread throughout the community, condolences immediately poured in to the family, including several messages on the Facebook page, which was shared with his wife, Marina.
The couple, who were married for 61 years, were well-known in the community, particularly for their volunteer work and their performances on the variety television show, “The Harris and Harris Country Jamboree,” which Herman hosted with their oldest daughter, Christine.
For many years while the show ran on the community channel, it attracted hundreds of local singers and musicians, many of whom went on to bigger and better things in the music industry.
“Sad to hear (about Herman’s death),” Shanneyganock’s Mark Hiscock posted on Facebook.
“I had a few appearances on Harris and Harris Jamboree! Rest in peace, Herman.”
Billy Sutton of The Fables told The Telegram that growing up on Bannerman Lake Road — better known in town as the Pipetrack — he knew the Harris family most of his life and that they were always caring, helpful people. He said Herman and Christine, in particular, had a huge impact on his music career.
“(They) lit a fire in me that neither I nor them even knew they were lighting at the time,” said Sutton, who noted his brothers took guitar lessons from Harris family members and that as a small boy, he would watch closely.
“The first chance I got to get my hands on that guitar, I had taken it in and, unbeknownst to me, I was off towards a life embedded in music.”
At age 10, Sutton, his two brothers and friend Blair Verge formed a country/folk band and appeared as guests on “The Harris and Harris Country Jamboree.” During a taping of the show, he first met Hiscock, or as Sutton described him, “this kid in a sweater vest and salt and pepper hat, propped up on a stool playing the accordion and singing.”
Sutton would go on to work with Hiscock on several occasions, having played often with Shanneyganock.
“So, really, it was Herman who is partially responsible for me taking the road I took in life,” said Sutton, who also played with the Ennis Sisters, the Government Rams and Irish traditional accordion group Cordeen.
Herman and his wife went on to perform countless shows for people all over Conception Bay and Trinity Bay, from Legions to seniors’ homes.
“They are household names in Conception and Trinity Bay,” Sutton said. “Herman Harris was a great human being who will be missed by many, many people.”
Herman leaves to mourn three sons: Gordon, Alex and Herman Jr.; three daughters: Christine, Elva and Nena; and nine grandchildren.
The Telegram published a story about the family in May, when Christine received a kidney donation from her brother Alex, 31 years after Gord donated one of his kidneys to her.
“The Harrises are a family of caring and loving people who would go to hell and back to help someone out, the kind of people that always seem to put others before themselves,” Sutton said.
“And Herman, he just lived for music and the happiness that it brought other people.”