Sunset Memorial Park & Funeral Home

1701 Austin Highway, San Antonio, TX


Thomas O. Harris

March 4, 1935May 20, 2020

Thomas O. Harris, Ph.D., entered rest on May 20, 2020. He was born in Miami, Oklahoma, on March 4, 1935, to Orville Francis and Vivian Muriel Barnes Harris. He received his Ph. D. from Kansas State University, taught high school, and was a professor at Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, Kansas. He also served as the Kansas State Director of the Vocational Industrial Clubs of America (VICA) and a member of the Board of Directors of the American Vocational Association (AVA) serving as President of the Trade and Industrial (T&I) Division. Upon moving to Texas, he taught at Texas A. & M., Texas State, and St. Philip’s College where he also served as Dean of Applied Science and Technology. Tom was a teacher extraordinaire and was designated as a Master Teacher by the College of Education, University of Texas at Austin. Tom was a man of many talents, and after retirement his interests shifted to gardening. He became a Master Gardener and Master Pruner (certified) and was a founding member of the Gardening Volunteers of South Texas (GVST). He served as President of the Bexar County Master Gardeners and GVST. He was an active speaker on all things gardening and taught gardening classes for community education in school districts in and around San Antonio. Tom was known in and around San Antonio as “The Hill Country Gardener” and at one time, “Dr. Phixit.” As Dr. Phixit he built and repaired anything made of wood as he was an avid woodworker. He once said if the plans called for one nail, he would put two – and glue - so it would last. Building Christmas presents out of wood for family and friends was one of his favorite things to do. Tom was also an ardent freshwater fisherman. One of his greatest treasures is a mounted eight pound bass he caught at Braunig Lake. Tom wrote a gardening article for the Boerne Star each week for 20 years, four gardening books and various other publications related to gardening. He was, at one time, the only certified teacher of Square Foot Gardening in Texas. Because of his efforts in teaching and writing about drip irrigation and water conservation, he received the San Antonio Water System (SAWS) Refreshing Ideas Award in 2011. Tom was preceded in death by his parents and his granddaughter, Lindsay. He is survived by his wife, Gay; children, Lee Ann (Jeff), Tim (Karen), Chris (Rachel), and Jennifer (Nichole), four grandchildren, four great grandchildren, and two great great grandchildren; and brother, George (Carrie). He is also survived by his stepdaughters, Bonnie, Gay Ellen (Brian), Colleen, and Robynn (Judy), their families, and BIL, G.W. Arnold (Patsy). The family would like to express their gratitude to Tom Wood and the BeeHive Assisted Living Staff for their loving care of Tom. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Spring Creek United Methodist Church Capital Campaign Fund at springcreekumc.org or to the GVST Scholarship Fund, 1254 Austin Hwy, San Antonio, TX 78209.


No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.


Thomas O. Harris

have a memory or condolence to add?

Paul Huegel

May 27, 2020

The gardening world lost one of its finest with the passing of Tom Harris . I first met Tom at a Men’s Garden Club of San Antonio meeting in 2005 when I first joined the club. He sat in the back of the room and sharpened garden tools for our members. I did not know at the time that he had a litany of credentials because he was so humble and unassuming. Tom was our go to expert whenever the club wanted a guest speaker. He always got a standing ovation whenever he spoke on a multitude of garden related topics. He will be missed but remembered as one of our very best garden gurus. May Tom Rest In Peace.

Maggi Kautz

May 27, 2020

The gardening world has lost a giant in our industry. One of the nicest and most knowledgeable gurus around. For several years Tom was the main attraction at the GVST booth at Shavano Park's Earth Day Celebration. His tool sharpening talents were a favorite among the residents and he has become a legend for his contributions to the gardening world.

Tom will be greatly missed by his buddies in Gardening Volunteers of South Texas as well as many others in our gardening community. Rest easy, Tom.


May 27, 2020

I hope to be like Tom, in the gardening world, as I mature more into "give back" mode. His gardening knowledge and skills, along with the obvious heart of a teacher, made him someone to remember and emulate for those that follow. Widespread memories of Tom will survive beyond today.

Keep n Touch - Joe
Master Gardener (Class 33)
Master Pruner (Taught by Tom)
GVST (original member)
MGC (Past President)

Rachel Cywinski

May 27, 2020

Gardening Volunteers of South Texas has been blessed with leadership of so many dedicated volunteers, and none more durable than Dr. Tom Harris. Any thought of attending a meeting in recent years includes seeing him at the table just inside the entrance, waiting to sharpen tools for any gardeners who brought theirs, for a donation to support the organization.
The obituary captured his history of sharing his gardening knowledge with enthusiasm and encouraging so many adults to garden.

Owen Keiser

May 27, 2020

To the family of Tom Harris -

I had the pleasure of meeting and learning from Tom a number of times since we moved to San Antonio in 2002. Tom was always patient and happy to answer my basic questions, a veritable fountain of knowledge, wisdom, insight and humor. With the drip irrigation training he gave me, in the years since I have installed DI systems in several school and community gardens. His legacy lives on throughout the city on a regular, scheduled basis.

Tom will be sorely missed; thank you for sharing him.

Owen Keiser
Bexar County Master Gardeners

PS Tom also taught me how to properly sharpen my tools!

Mark Fanick

May 27, 2020

The Family of Fanicks Garden Center are saddened to hear the lose of Tom. He was a part of our world for at least 30 years . He used to help teach drip irrigation classes and would sharpen tools for folks during events. He made us all feel like we were a part of his family. For myself I would see him at almost every gvst event and would greet me and make sure I had everything I needed to get started on a presentation. I hope when he sees grandpa Fanick and John Fanick in heaven. They can together make it an even more beautiful place for the rest of us. With much love to the Family.

Mark Fanick
Mike Fanick
Our Family members and workers

Jack Downey

May 27, 2020

Tom was the most welcoming of Master Gardeners, eager to bring new gardeners into the fold and freely shared his extensive gardening knowledge to all who needed help. A wonderful community minded man who we should all strive to emulate - he will be missed at any gardening gathering.

Carrie Roudebush

May 26, 2020

I'll always remember the landscaping classes I took with Tom. After I moved here, I soon realized that the flower garden I had grown in Virginia, was not going to happen in Texas.

I know there are a lot of gardeners out there, that like me, appreciate that through his community involvement and teaching, Tom shared his extensive knowledge of South Texas gardening.
RIP Tom.

Sherry Henry Cardenas

May 26, 2020

To Tom's Family,
Tom will truly be missed in so many of our lives. There are numerous great memories: Creating the Herb Garden at Randolph Air Force Base Children Center and seeing the children appreciation, being on the first Water Saver Audit Team together and doing site visits, watching Tom intently sharpen our tools, giving us wonderful gardening advice, sharing his vast experience, meals together, drinking his Eggnog! Enjoying his wood crafting, and Being our Very Best Gardening Friend. Blessings in Heaven. Heavy hearts say So Long.
Love, Sherry and Henry

Stephen Heye

May 26, 2020

I'm so sorry to hear about Tom's passing. He was such a great guy and wonderful source of knowledge about gardening.


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