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Skagit River Journal

of History & Folklore
700 total Free Home Page Stories & Photos
(Also see our Subscribers Magazine Sample)
The most in-depth, comprehensive site about the Skagit

Covers from British Columbia to Puget Sound. Counties covered: Skagit, Whatcom, Island, San Juan, Snohomish & BC. An evolving history dedicated to committing random acts of historical kindness
Noel V. Bourasaw, editor (bullet) 810 Central Ave., Sedro-Woolley, Washington, 98284
Home of the Tarheel Stomp (bullet) Mortimer Cook slept here & named the town Bug

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Dick Harris poem:
in memory of Jim Harris (and Jim's obituary)

      I began "This River Sings" while sitting on the banks of the Skagit River at Rockport, the day of Jim's Celebration of Life in August 2009. It will appear in soon to be released Reimagine: Poems, 1993-2009, and in Upriver Images, when it is completed.
      I always envied my "little" brother's his knowledge of the Upper Skagit and storytelling skills. Also when I needed verification of family or upper valley stories I was writing, I turned to Jim.
      Anyone interested in Reimagine can contact me at —Dick Harris, Bellingham.

(Skagit River)

This River Sings
for Marvin L. "Jim" Harris, 1937-2009
Snow, avalanche, and scree;
creeks, ponds, and seeps,
collect in reverberating rush,
cascade in mountain pools,
eddies glazed undercurrents.

Mosquitoes and deerflies,
humorless protein,
psalmic multitudes
survive winter's minus.

Spring, tempered and wet,
its creeks quicken and swirl.
Tawny duff and flecks of sun
conceal newly dropped fawns.

Eagle, salmon, and raven
sing this river's song —
sing as it flows —
This river sings as it
sprays cool mist,
splashes rocks with
syncopated rim-shots.

Cottonwoods rustle in tenor,
maples in baritone,
as softly this river sings
through mist and fog.

Softly, its spirits sing
of a mountain's ashes
rising in evening drafts.

Wild and free, this river sings.

(Jim Harris obit)
Jim Harris

Jim Harris, Rockport and Illabot Creek
Skagit Valley Herald, July. 28, 2009
    Any time, any amount, please help build our travel and research fund for what promises to be a very busy 2010, traveling to mine resources from California to Washington and maybe beyond. Depth of research determined by the level of aid from readers. And subscriptions to our optional Subscribers Online Magazine (launched 2001) by donation too. Thank you. Thank you.
      Marvin L. "Jim" Harris left this earth on June 21, 2009, to hike the hills of heaven. A lifelong Skagit Valley resident, Jim was born October 2, 1937, in Sedro-Woolley, Washington. He was the third child born to Alvin B. Harris and Sarah M. (Eggleston) Harris. Jim will be missed by so many but his stories will live on as will his infectious love of the Skagit Valley and the North Cascades. Friends and family are invited to gather to celebrate his life by the social hall and log cabin at Howard Miller Steelhead Park, Rockport, Washington, on Sunday, August 16 at 2:00 PM. Stories to share are welcome.
      Jim spent most of his youth across the Skagit River from Rockport. He attended two-room Rockport school. When he was a teen, his family moved to "town" (Concrete), where he played football and basketball, and played trombone in the concert and festival bands at Concrete High School. He was Senior Class President of the Class of 1955.
      After some time logging, Jim enrolled at Washington State University and participated in the ROTC. He then transferred to Western Washington College (University) and graduated with a BA in Industrial Arts and Biology. He returned for additional time to complete his teaching certificate. His first assignment was head teacher of a two-room school in Marblemount.
      Jim moved to the Upper Skagit with his new wife Joyce E. (Northup) Harris in 1961. The Harrises welcomed their daughter Valerie in 1962 and son Dan in 1963. In 1969, they adopted two-year-old daughter Regina. During this time, Jim also taught in Newhalem and Concrete, as well as working as a seasonal employee for the U.S. Forest Service.
      Jim left teaching and joined the U.S. National Park Service when they opened the North Cascades National Park. He returned to school and received an AA in Skagit Valley College's Forest Ranger Program. This launched a career for which "Ranger Jim" was well known. While he served many roles within the North Cascades National Park, he was best known for his wonderful fireside programs and his extensive research and local knowledge of the peoples and history of the Upper Skagit. Although he retired in 1999, much evidence of his work as a naturalist and interpretive specialist throughout the park and Upper Skagit remains today.
      Jim helped raise three stepchildren with his second wife Ellen Hand. He became a grandfather in 1983. He enjoyed a total of eight grandchildren and one great-grandson, as well as the five grandchildren of his longtime life partner, Sally Grant of Bellingham.
      Beside his children and grandchildren, his brother, Dick Harris, of Bellingham, and a cousin, Sally Anne, who was raised by their family, and numerous other relatives, survive Jim. His parents, his sister, Loretta, and two infant brothers preceded him in death.
      Jim's love for the mountains and the valley were pervasive throughout his life and evident in everything he did. He was a hiker, published author, poet, storyteller, speaker, educator, "bear wrangler", logger, farmer, carpenter, and local school supporter. His retirement years were filled with doing what he loved: hiking, biking, and traveling with Sally, and even a few new skills like dancing!

      Journal ed. note: You can read another marvelous memorial to Jim Harris at this North Cascades Institute website, which includes memories from several of his friends.
      We thank Dick for this fine poem and we look forward to reviewing his upcoming book. All rights to this poem are reserved to Dick Harris.

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Story posted on March 13, 2010 . . . Please report any broken links so we can update them

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