Vernis Washburn Harris passed away peacefully at her home, August 14, 2008, of natural causes. She died surrounded by her family.
Two weeks earlier, she celebrated her 95th birthday with a large group of her family. It was a wonderful experience, but doesn’t compare with the reunion that was held on the other side of the veil.
We can only imagine what is was like to greet her husband, Ashton, who died twenty-one years earlier, her parents, sisters and brothers, all whom preceded her in death.
Vernis was born in Blanding, Utah, August 5 1913, to James Fredrick and Lydia Spencer Washburn. She was the youngest of eleven children.
Her brothers wanted to name her Jonnie, but her mother and sister, Neta wanted to call her Vernis. They had found the name Vernis on some newspaper that was on the wall in their home. She was named after the Vernis Martin bedstead.
They put both names in a hat, and Jonnie was the name they picked. When it came time to bless her, her father named her Vernis. It didn’t really matter, her brothers called her Jonnie anyway.
When Vernis was only seven years old, three of her family members died, including her mother, Lydia, and two brothers, Francis, and Marion.
She remembered the next several years were spent walking to the Blanding Cemetery, to hoe weeds and put flowers on their graves.
Vernis and her sisters, Klea and Reva, were lovingly embraced by their older married sister, Neta Yong, who mothered them and taught them many things that they would have learned from their own mother.
Eventually their father re-married and he and his wife, Ella Chapman, had three more children, Lois, Fay and Quinn Washburn.
Vernis attended Blanding schools. When she graduated from San Juan County High School, she moved to Salt Lake City and worked as a nanny for a Mrs. Barlow and her family.
She saved every penny, and with generous donations from her brother Guy, was able to attend Brigham Young University, where she earned a teaching degree in elementary education. She returned to Blanding and taught second and third grade students for a few years. She loved her students, and they loved her.
Vernis married Leonard Ashton Harris, May 25, 1934, in the Salt Lake Temple. After two short weeks of marriage, she returned to teach, and support Ashton, while he served a full time mission for the LDS Church to the Southern States.
She was allowed to go to Florida and serve as his companion the last month of his mission, on the return trip to Utah, they were in two different car accidents. Vernis was hurt both times.
She was told that she would probably never walk or have children. Through faith and courage she eventually had eight children.
They are: Meredith Kartchner, (John), Kaye Harris (Rodney), Diane Jones, Jim Harris (Beverly), Ruth Glass (Joe), Jane Walsh (David), Callie Randall (Howard), and Guy Harris (Filadelfia).
Vernis labored side by side with Ashton for 53 years. They lived in Blanding, but also spent much of that time on their farm at Dodge Point. Ashton raised pinto beans and wheat, and Vernis raised their children.
Ashton and Vernis were very involved with the Utah Farm Bureau. They made many friends and had some wonderful experiences while participating in that organization.
Mrs. Harris was an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and served in many different positions.
She served in ward and stake Relief Society Presidencies, was a teacher and Compassionate Service Leader in the Relief Society, and she taught the Sunbeams in Sunday School for several years. She served faithfully as a visiting teacher to the very end.
She truly taught her children the meaning of charity.
Vernis body was worn out, but her mind and spirit were refreshingly young. She was ready to meet her maker.
Though she will be greatly missed by family and friends, we are glad she can move on to bigger and greater things.
Vernis is survived by her sister Fay Truman, of Orem, UT, eight children, 37 grandchildren, and 92 great grandchildren. What a wonderful legacy she has left us. We love you Grandma Harris.
Card of Thanks
We, the children and our families of Vernis Washburn Harris, wish to express our thanks for all those kind and generous people who remembered our sweet mother.
Thank you for the delicious food, notes of sympathy and kindness, lovely flowers, and your willingness to take the time to come and pay your last respects to Mom.
Thank you to all who were her friends. She loved you and appreciated you.
Danny Palmer and the San Juan Mortuary, we thank you for the expert way you took care of our mother.
Thank you Drs. Redd and Kirk for making house calls when it was necessary. We appreciate those who work with Hospice for the care and services rendered.
We especially thank the Sixth Ward Bishoprics for watching over our Mom these past 21 years.
The meal following the funeral, prepared by the Sixth Ward Relief Society, was delicious.
Vernis loved her visiting teachers and we thank them for all their many acts of kindness.
We especially want to thank the Priest Quorum in the Sixth Ward for faithfully watching over our mom each Sunday.
Meredith & John Kartchner
Kaye & Rodney Harris
Jim & Beverly Harris
Ruth & Joe Glass
Jane & David Walsh
Callie & Howard Randall
Guy & Fila Harris