Our beautiful wife, mother, grandmother, and friend to all, Virginia Lee Jensen Harris, passed away on Thursday, March 2, 2023 at the age of 89.
Only 5 days later her beloved husband and our father, grandfather, and mentor, Jess Martin Harris, passed away on Tuesday, March 7, 2023, at the age of 91.
Virginia was born July 25, 1933, to Alice Ottella Lee Guptill Jensen and LeRoy Lyman Jensen in Smithfield, Utah. Virginia was the youngest of 5 children, which included 3 girls and 2 boys. She grew up in Smithfield, graduating from North Cache High School in 1951. She served as an editor for her high school yearbook and enjoyed that experience very much.
Jess was born November 8, 1931, to Roma Atkinson Harris and George Wallace Harris in Clarkston, Utah. Jess was the oldest of 5 children, with 2 sisters and 2 brothers. Jess shouldered a lot of responsibility at a very young age, and always felt a keen desire for the welfare of his siblings and parents. In fact, some of the qualities that later attracted his future wife, Virginia, were his strong family ties and his feelings of responsibility for them.
Jess spent the first few years of his life on “the old ranch” in Clarkston. His family then moved to Mendon, where he spent most of his childhood. He loved playing basketball as a child and youth, and was thrilled when he became part of the team at South Cache High School. Jess remembered so clearly the day his father came home and announced that property had just been purchased in Smithfield, and the family would be moving there shortly. His heart dropped upon hearing this news, as he realized he would now be attending the rival school of North Cache High.
There was a silver lining in all of this, for in Smithfield he met Virginia, who quickly became an important part of his life. After graduation from North Cache in 1950, he had hoped to serve as a missionary. However, due to war-time restrictions, this was not an option. He worked for a time and then began attending USU, majoring in Agriculture.
Meanwhile, after high-school graduation Virginia lived in Ogden and worked in the teletype center at Hill Air Force Base for a year. She then married her high school sweetheart, Jess, on September 15, 1952 in the Logan Temple. They resided in Smithfield, where Virginia worked as a secretary at USU while Jess attended college there. After his graduation, they moved to Las Vegas for 1-1/2 years, and then moved back to Smithfield in 1957.
Jess and Virginia were blessed with 2 sons and 3 daughters. Virginia loved children and made it a priority to spend time with them. She had a quick mind and loved to play games. She looked forward to finding snatches of time with her kids among the duties of life, and loved to play games even into her old age. When her youngest was in second grade, Virginia started working as an aide at Summit School in Smithfield and later became the secretary there. She really enjoyed her work and loved interacting with the children, teachers, and staff at Summit. She retired in 2001.
As a child, Virginia longed to learn how to play the piano and made great sacrifices to accomplish this. She also learned to play the organ and spent many, many years playing the organ and/or piano for church services and funerals. It was a lot of work, but she loved being able to serve in this way. She held many other church callings over the years, dedicating much time and energy to each one.
Jess farmed in the Smithfield area and also taught elementary school for a time. In 1960 Jess and Virginia opened the Harris Mountain View Dairy in Smithfield. They sold state-inspected raw milk for 8 years, until the dairy was sold in 1968. This was a family affair, with parents helping their children learn important skills and the value of hard work.
Jess was a knowledgeable horseman and spent much time in the saddle over the years. He shared his love of horses with his children and supported their desire to participate in county horse shows. Jess enjoyed time spent with family and with many people in the community. He loved to go snowmobiling, especially when he had more time after retirement. Throughout his life he served on several community boards and was always willing to do what he could to help someone out. Though he had the toughness required of a farmer, he had a heart of gold and truly cared about others.
Virginia was a woman of faith and kindness, and is lovingly remembered for these characteristics. She was good at pointing out the importance of “walking in another person’s shoes.” She made many efforts to teach her children to seek understanding rather than judgment when confronted by others with opposing viewpoints.
Jess and Virginia are survived by sons Mike (Brenda) and Steve (Stephanie), and daughters Diana (Joe), Debbie (John), and Trish (Ed). Jess and Virginia have 21 grandchildren and 44 great-grandchildren, all of whom they loved very much.
The family wishes to express their sincere appreciation for the many caring individuals, medical professionals, and others who helped make the last days of their lives more comfortable.
Funeral services for both of them together will be on Friday, March 17, 2023, at Allen Mortuary, 420 East 1800 North in North Logan. A viewing will be held from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m., with the joint funeral beginning at 12 noon. Interment will be in the Logan Cemetery.