Phillip Randall “Randy” Harris, age 71, passed away peacefully, with his family at his side, from complications of leukemia on March 31, 2019. Randy was born on July 23, 1947 in Los Angeles, CA, the second of six children. At age eight, Randy, his siblings and mother moved from Los Angeles to Dakota, MN. A few years later, they moved from Dakota, MN to the north side of La Crosse, where he quickly became indoctrinated in “Northside Rules.” This is where he also earned his other nickname, “Brillo,” due to his dark curly hair. Randy was known as a scrapper in his days, and being the oldest brother, never backed away from defending his family or friends!
Randy graduated from Logan High School in 1967. He was drafted into the Army and sent to Vietnam, where he completed a one-year tour of duty. While in Vietnam, Randy served proudly, and with distinction, earning several service and campaign awards. Upon completion of his tour of duty and enlistment, he then returned to La Crosse.
He then met, and later married Kathy Olson of Sparta, and they had their first child, Chadrec. It was around this time he started working for the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad as a conductor. They initially lived in La Crosse, but a major fire destroyed their apartment on French Island. They then moved to Sparta, and bought their first and only house, on Depot St. They then had their second child Shannon.
Randy worked the railroad for 37 years, retiring in 2007 at age 60. He then took odd jobs just to keep himself busy, including a train handler job at Fort McCoy.
Dad enjoyed playing softball for various teams in both Sparta and La Crosse, which he did regularly through the 80’s and into the 90’s. While he enjoyed softball, he loved playing golf! Whenever he could, he would play multiple times a week, 18 holes, and even occasionally, 36 holes in one day! One of his crowning achievements came in 2005, when he hit a hole in one! Mostly, he just loved being with his golfing friends, especially his buddies in the noon group!
More than anything, though, Dad loved being with and talking to people. He truly felt that being with family and friends, and having a few beers, was everything important in life. Randy and his brothers always enjoyed singing along to many “golden oldies” songs, and there were very few games of poker or Euchre that Dad did not sit in on.
In the Fall of 2017, he was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, and began immediate treatment. His condition, even at that point, was very advanced. However, like a true tough guy, Dad fought the battle for a year and a half before finally succumbing. Randy was well known and very well-liked by many, and loved dearly by his family. We will miss him!
Surviving him are his wife of 48 years, Kathy, and his two children, Chadrec and Shannon, his grandchildren Frank Scudieri, Sheri Scudieri, Logan Harris and Marissa Harris, and two great grandchildren, Brandon Borreson and Aubrey Borreson. He is also survived by his siblings, Judy (Duane) Hoff, Steven (Debbie) Harris, Brian (Karen) Harris, Sherree (Mark) Hess, sister in law Cathy Harris (Richard), his father-in-law Robert Olson, his sister in law, Linda (Tim) Caucutt, and brother in law Robert (Tracy) Olson, and many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his Mother, Alta Marie Harris, and father, Gordon Harris, his brother Richard Harris, his daughter in law Sheri Harris, his mother in law JoAnne Olson, and his nephew Lucas Jorgenson.
A Celebration of Life, per Dad’s request, will be held on June 15, 2019, at the River Run Golf Course in Sparta beginning at 3 pm with full military honors provided by VFW Post 2112 set to take place at 4 pm. The family requests that no flowers be brought, and per Dad’s wishes, that we have a few beers and a song in his honor, that we share good memories of him, and that we enjoy each other’s company.
Memorials can be directed to the Sparta Area Cancer Support and/or the American Red Cross.
The Lanham-Schanhofer Funeral Home, Sparta, is assisting the family with arrangements.