When Wayne and Loretta Vice said goodbye to their friends of 41 years Sherree and Carl Harris after a New Year’s visit in 2011, they had no idea it was the last time they would see Carl alive.
On January 26, 2011, the dedicated husband and Air Force veteran suffered a massive heart attack and died.
It was sudden, and the pain is still with all of the friends and family he left behind.
“I still miss him today,” Wayne Vice said in a phone interview from Louisiana on Friday. “My kids still miss him. They probably loved him as much as we did. He’s still here in our minds.”
Harris’ widow, Sherree still tears up when she talks about the years he spent in the body shop at Bryan Foods, his work at Navistar and all of the side work he did for little or no charge for folks in the community.
“To me, he was the most wonderful man God put on this Earth,” Harris said, recalling her husband of over four decades. “We were married 43 years, six months and 26 days.”
The Harris’ were married in 1967, as Carl was stationed in Guam with the USAF. He actually met Vice while he was stationed at England AFB in Alexandria, Louisiana.
“We became friends there,” Vice said. “He got married, and I was already married, but my wife was living out of state until she came to meet me there.”
When the two couples got acquainted, they all became friends for life. For Carl Harris, they were friends right to the end.
“He was different,” Vice said of Carl on the New Year’s visit. “We had no idea he was sick, and I don’t think he knew either.”
Carl and Sherree settled in West Point, and he supported his family by working in the body shop at Bryan Foods, where he toiled for 40 years until his retirement in 2005.
He worked for a couple of places over the next year before going to work full time again at Navistar when the company opened in town.
All the time, Carl was always happy to help out friends and family by fixing things or doing body work in a shop behind the family’s home.
“There were times when he did not charge people anything,” Sherree Harris said of her husband. “He was such a giving man.”
Charles Peay, who owns Peay Auto Salvage in Pheba said that he worked with Carl at Bryan, and his salvage yard was often the place the fix-it man would come to get parts for his friends’ cars.
“Sometimes these people didn’t have all of the money in the world, and he would still fix their cars,” Peay said.
Peay says that his friend helped him at Bryan as well.
“He was a good teacher,” Peay said. “He taught me a lot of things. He would always help you if you needed it.”
Sherree Harris says that on the day he died, her husband was still working hard.
“He got up at 4:30 in the morning and went to work at 6 a.m.,” she said. “He did not get home until eight the next morning. He laid down a little while, got up and ate some breakfast and then he went back to work.”
Yesterday, Carl Harris’ friends and family marked the two-year anniversary of his passing. The memories are still clear in their minds. They are the memories of a man who gave everything of himself as a husband, a father and a friend for 65 years.