American Veteran 08
Official Obituary of

Charles M. Harris, Sr.

September 13, 1953 ~ March 23, 2024 (age 70) 70 Years Old
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Charles Harris, Sr. Obituary

Charles Marion Harris was born in Scottsbluff, Nebraska on September 13,1953 to Dorothy and Leonard Harris. The seventh of twelve children, his early childhood was spent on the Nebraska horse racing circuit because his father owned and trained racehorses. After his father’s premature death, Charles and seven of his siblings helped his mother continue the racing business for several years. 

Known as Charlie to his family, and Chuck to friends, his early childhood experiences instilled in him the importance of caring for others - family first, then anyone else that you were in a position to help. It was the guiding principle of his life - take care of those you love. 

Charlie met the love of his life, Janet Rose Newsom, in high school and the two were married in 1972 after their first semester of college. He graduated from the University of Nebraska at Omaha with a BS in Psychology in 1978. Charlie completed Army ROTC at Creighton University, attending Airborne training and graduating from the Army Ranger Course. He was a distinguished military graduate (top 10%) and was commissioned as a US Army officer in 1978. During his distinguished 25 year career he reached the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, serving throughout the United States, as well as in Germany and South Korea. He saw combat during Desert Storm as the S-3, Operations Officer of the 24th Forward Support Battalion in the 24th Infantry Division. In 1987, he earned a Masters in Management (with “Distinction”) from National University. Charlie was particularly proud of his contributions to the Special Medical Augmentation Response Teams in which he helped plan and train teams to respond to disasters, natural or man-made. These teams went into action on several occasions, the most famous occurring after the terrorist attack on the Pentagon on September 11, 2001 and the January 6th insurrection at the US Capitol. After retiring from the Army, Charlie worked for nearly 10 years as a civilian at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and Fort Dietrich.  

But as impressive as his military career was, his giving spirit and caring heart were even more remarkable. He offered his time and considerable skills to many - sometimes through participation in formal organizations such as Boy Scouts, Habitat for Humanity, United Methodist Men and many church mission trips. Other times he just saw a need and offered a helping hand. He was quick to help a stranded stranger change a tire, assist a neighbor with a project, or open his home to someone who needed a place to stay. Charlie provided emotional and financial support for many people throughout the years, helping to secure better housing arrangements, start new business ventures or simply pay unexpected bills. He was always willing to provide a listening ear, be a sounding board, and offer good counsel.

In 1998, Charles was proud to build his mother a house in Bellwood Nebraska, serving as general contractor, and organizing the entire extended family to support his mother. Being able to give his mother a good home that would last was the fulfillment of a life-long dream for him. 

Charlie loved adventure and sharing it with others. In his younger adult life he climbed multiple mountains, including Whitney, Rainier, and Denali. He loved sharing his knowledge and experience with others, taking the family to climb Mt. St. Helens, and teaching many nieces, nephews, and friends to water ski. He took full advantage of opportunities throughout his and Janet’s career to explore the world, traveling extensively throughout Europe and Asia, including fulfilling a childhood dream of walking the Great Wall of China. 

Charlie delighted in tinkering with cars, and spent several years of retirement restoring salvaged cars and later moved into antique cars. Whether it be sledding, fishing, camping, traveling, or watching games and concerts, he loved spending time with his grandkids and taught them to make ridiculous bids when playing cards. 

The last years of Charlie’s life were challenging as he valiantly fought the symptoms of his Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP) condition. He fought for as much time as he could get with the love of his life, his children and grandchildren. On Saturday March 23 2024, Charlie passed peacefully with his wife and children by his side and joined in heaven his father Leonard, mother Dorothy, and his siblings (Abe Walton), Dorothy Cheevers (Gary), Nora Jean Neely (Dale), (Sue Harris), Sandra Rettele (Jerry) and (Dale Newsom). He is survived by his wife Janet, his son Charlie Jr. (Jenny), his daughter Jennifer (Scott) Karsner, and his grandkids Zachary, Brady, Peter, Grace, and Mark as well as his siblings Kay Walton, Leonard Harris, Tom (Midge) Harris, Davy (Deb) Harris, Danny Harris, Sally Muckey, Roy (Denise) Harris, Jola (Billy) Carnes, and a multitude of nieces, nephews, and other extended family.  

Charlie leaves a legacy of hard-work, service, mischievous joy, and above all, love for family, both God-given and chosen. He taught us to care for ourselves and for each other, challenging us to go and do the same.

The family will receive guests for viewings on Thursday 3/28 from 4:00 to 6:00 PM at Harry Witzke’s Funeral Home (4112 Old Columbia Pike, Ellicott City, MD 21043) and on Saturday 3/30 from 10:00 to 11:00 AM at Bethany United Methodist Church (2875 Bethany Lane, Ellicott City, MD 21042). Funeral service will be held at Bethany United Methodist Church on Saturday 3/30 at 11:00 AM. Charles will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery at a later date. In lieu of flowers memorial donations may be made to Army Emergency Relief or Bethany United Methodist Church.



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March 28, 2024

4:00 PM to 6:00 PM
Harry H. Witzke's Family Funeral Home
4112 Old Columbia Pike
Ellicott City, MD 21043

March 30, 2024

10:00 AM to 11:00 AM
Bethany United Methodist Church
2875 Bethany Road
Ellicott City, MD 21042

Funeral Service
March 30, 2024

11:00 AM
Bethany United Methodist Church
2875 Bethany Road
Ellicott City, MD 21042

Interment will be at a later date.

Arlington National Cemetery
1 Memorial Drive
Arlington, VA 22211


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