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Harris StevensJune 9, 1932 ~ January 9, 2018 (age 85)
Harris Stevens, 85, of Petoskey, passed away January 9, 2018.
Born June 9, 1932, in Hillman, Michigan, to Harry and Eva (Cadieux) Stevens, Harris lived in Petoskey since 1970, where he was a teacher at Petoskey High School.
Harris was a truly jovial man who felt he hadn’t correctly served mankind if he didn’t leave every person laughing whom he encountered. Always quick with a joke or funny story, his goal in life was to add humor to other’s lives.
He graduated from Hillman High School in 1950. While still in high school, he worked at the local Chrysler dealership where he would develop his life-long mechanical skills. After graduation, he volunteered for active duty in the 16th Michigan National Guard, 125th Division. He attended Michigan Technological College for one year where he played the saxophone in the school band, played football and volunteered for ROTC.
In 1953 Harris was drafted into the U.S. Army. He took his basic training at Fort Knox, Kentucky. He was transferred to Fort Campbell, Tennessee, where he joined the 11th Army Airborne Division and completed parachute jump master school. He also completed wheeled vehicle school. He proudly earned his wings after 37 jumps.
In 1955, he married L. Annarita Smith of Atlanta, Michigan. They were stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where he served in intelligence and on the medical unit. After serving in the Army, in 1955, he attended the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor on the G.I. Bill. Because he had broken his nose while in jump school, his equilibrium was compromised and he couldn’t finish his schooling at U of M. He attended Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti from 1957-1959 studying weather (then went to Austin Pea College in Nashville, TN, where he manned the weather station). He graduated from Eastern with a Bachelor’s degree in Education and went to work for the summer in road construction. While living in Ann Arbor, their first daughter, Darcy, was born.
His first teaching position was in Harrisville, Michigan, while he earned his vocational certificate and became a shop teacher. While living in Harrisville, their second daughter, Tamara, was born. His teaching skills took him to Ferris College (now known as Ferris University) in Big Rapids, Michigan. He taught welding to draftsmen, drafting to welders, and metallurgy to machine tool shop students for five years.
After Ferris, he became the training director for John Bean Automotive in Lansing, Michigan, before becoming the sales representative for John Bean Equipment. During that time he and his family lived in Lansing and Ann Arbor, Mich., and Green Bay, Wisconsin.
By the mid-1960s, he moved his family to Northern Michigan, built a chalet that he designed near Thunder Mountain in Boyne Falls, and was the Vice Principal at Inland Lakes Schools, until in 1970 when he took a newly created teaching position at Petoskey High School as the Disadvantaged Coordinator. He worked summers at Carson-Kibbe Chevrolet-Olds Auto Dealership in Petoskey, and winters as a ski patrolman, and eventually a ski instructor at Boyne Highlands in Harbor Springs.
His first position at Petoskey High School was as the Disadvantaged Coordinator for students using his guidance and counseling Master’s degree he’d earned from Central Michigan University. Over his many years at PHS he taught classes in the vocational wing and Aerospace, introducing many students to the world of aviation. Many of his students left high school with their private pilot’s license and went on to join the Air Force and other aviation careers. He was always proud of the fact that not only was he still flying after many years, but so was every student he ever taught to fly, and he kept track of all his aerospace students. Harris retired from PHS in 1986.
Harris earned his private pilot’s license after his 17th birthday. He became a private pilot flight instructor; commercial pilot; instrument rated pilot; taught Advanced Ground School to private and commercial pilots to pass their written tests at both PHS and North Central Michigan College in Petoskey. He was glider rated; Airframe and Powerplant mechanic rated; seaplane rated; and a certified weather observer.
Over the years he owned several aircraft, including two Bonanza Beechcraft 35 V-tail; a home-built Volmer amphibious aircraft; a glider plane; and a Volks plane.
After returning to Michigan from Green Bay, Harris began volunteering with the National Ski Patrol at Nubs Nob ski resort in Harbor Springs and Boyne resorts. He became a certified ski instructor (PSIA) in 1967 and taught downhill skiing at Hidden Valley Ski Club in Gaylord, Boyne Mountain and Thunder Mountain in Boyne Falls, and at Boyne Highlands in Harbor Springs.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, he and his family owned a wood 36’ Mariner Ketch rig sailboat with two masts that they sailed around the Great Lakes in summers. He and Annarita taught their daughters to ski, sail, and enjoy all the pleasures of nature. He and Annarita divorced in 1976.
Since retiring from teaching in 1986, he pursued his avocations of skiing, flying, building aircraft, canoeing the many rivers of Michigan, and riding his Honda Goldwing motorcycles.
Everything Harris learned to do, he became a teacher of it to others so that he could share his passions. As a consummate teacher, his last act on Earth will be to teach students at the U of M Medical School, where his body will serve as a cadaver. Cremation will be performed after the medical students complete their training.
He is survived by his daughters: Darcy (Charlie) Seals of Tahoe City, California; and Tamara Stevens (Rob Tweedie) of Harbor Springs; Michigan; four nieces and one nephew; and countless friends who shared a laugh with him over the years.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Harry and Eva Stevens; a younger brother, Duane (Deanna) of Hillman; an older sister, Lorraine (Bill) Stephenson of Monroe, an infant daughter; and many beloved family dogs.
The family wishes to sincerely thank the staff at Independence Village in Petoskey for their unwavering patience and kindness in providing Harris with his final home. Everyone who works at the Village are professional, caring, and exceedingly gifted in making their guests feel like family. We truly are thankful for their generosity of spirit in the four years that he lived there. The family also wishes to thank the physicians, nurses and staff at Internal Medicine of Petoskey for their expert medical care. The physicians and all the nurses are an amazing group of medical professionals, and are an important asset to our community. Hospice of Little Traverse Bay is a wonderful organization whose staff are truly angels. The nurses, aides, and other members of the team who helped care for Harris deserve the highest praise for their gentle care.
A memorial visitation will be held in the Westminster Room at the First Presbyterian Church in Petoskey, on Friday, Jan. 19 from 3-6 p.m. No funeral service will be held, as was his wish.
In lieu of flowers, the family gratefully requests that a tax-deductible donation be made to either: Hospice of Little Traverse Bay, Camp Daggett (a summer camp for boys and girls on Walloon Lake) or the Northern Michigan Women’s Resource Center in Petoskey.
Arrangements for Harris’ transportation to the University of Michigan are being handled by Stone Funeral Home.
Hospice of Llittle Traverse Bay
One Hiland Drive, Petoskeey MI 49770
Women’s Resource Center of Northern Michigan
423 Porter Street, Petoskey MI 49770
Camp Daggett Scholarship Fund
03001 Church Rd., Petoskey MI 49770