OBITUARY

Melvin "Sonny" Harris

September 1, 1936April 4, 2021
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Des Moines

Melvin J.R. Harris, 84, passed away on Sunday, April 4, 2021. Visitation will be from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, April 11, 2021 at McLaren’s Chapel in West Des Moines. A private family burial will be at Resthaven Cemetery.

Melvin, “Sonny” to his friends and siblings, was born in Weldon, IA to Melvin and Gladys Harris on September 1, 1936. The work ethic, entrepreneurial spirit and self-reliance he developed growing up on an Iowa farm served him well during a long, industrious career. After graduating from Weldon High School in 1954, he started off humbly in the clothing industry stocking shelves for Brody’s, a Des Moines firm. He rose steadily and quickly, culminating as a senior Vice President for Block Industries, a large national clothing manufacturer and distributer. For relaxation, he ran a t-shirt concession at the Iowa State Fair for over 30 years. Melvin was an intelligent, hard worker and was happiest when busy, though he did take time to spend summers with his family on the beach in North Carolina. His children cherish the memories of those idyllic summers.

Melvin is survived and remembered fondly by his wife of 57 years, Jan; two children, Brian (Anne) Harris and Roxanne (Tim) Mason; he also leaves behind a sister, Beverly; brother, Bernard (Arlene); nephew, Michael Allen; and nieces, Deb Coates and Tracy Semanko. He was preceded in death by his parents.

Memorials contributions may be directed to the Alzheimer’s Association of Iowa.

Services

  • Visitation

    Sunday, April 11, 2021

Memories

Melvin "Sonny" Harris

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Richard Di Rosa

April 13, 2021

It was a true pleasure working closely with Mel , never have i met a man more dedicated to his company , his fellow workers and his sale team , while never forgetting the importance of and a strong bond with his wife and family , We were much more than just fellow workers we were friends, I was honored when I was invited and attended his daughters wedding ,
I will miss my friend , as will the industry that he so loved and all the friend's he made , His accomplishments in developing a highly specialized category is legendary and we all thank him for it.
Mel rest in piece , Janet and family my love to you
Richard , Cathy Di Rosa and family

Gary Chesney

April 10, 2021

I worked for and with Mel for many years at Block and Falcon Bay. And after those years we kept in touch.....I always enjoyed those conversations. I’ll miss those talks. He spoke often about his children with great pride. And he would point to landing Jan as his wife to prove what a great salesman he was. Rest In Peace my friend.

Alan & Karen McNeese

April 9, 2021

Mel and Jan were our next door neighbors for 12 years. They welcomed us to the neighborhood when we moved into 3600 Skyline Drive.
We could not have asked for better neighbors! Alan and Mel shared emails too, even to very recently. Mel always found the funniest emails to share!
I loved to bake and would take over goodies at Christmas when the family was home. Their favorite were my homemade salted nut roll bars.
Our deepest sympathy to Jan, Brian and Roxanne and families.
Alan & Karen McNeese

John Walsh

April 8, 2021

Brian
My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family

Joyce Branson

April 8, 2021

I’m so sorry to hear of Sonny’s passing. He often mentioned the days when he worked for my dad on the farm, as a teenager. So sad to lose another of our old Weldon school grads. My sympathy to all the Harris family.
Joyce

Karin Bennett

April 7, 2021

Roxanne,
I am so sorry to hear about your father's passing. I know how close you were to him and your mom. Your family is in our thoughts and prayers as you mourn his loss.

Karin and Scott Bennett

MAX HAMILTON

April 6, 2021

SO SORRY TO HEAR ABOUT MEL.
HE WAS A GOOD FRIEND, A FELLOW TRAVELER,.
i.VE KNOWN MEL SINCE 1957. THAT WOULD HAVE MADE HIM 21 YEARS OLD AND A SALES MGR. FOR BRODY DRY GOODS
IN DES MOINES.. MY WIFE AND I OPERATED A DISCOUNT JEANS STORE IN LINCOLN, NE. UNTIL WE RETIRED IN 1984.
WE ALWAYS DID BUSINESS WITH MEL. HE TOOK GOOD CARE OF US, AND WE ENJOYED HIS FRIEND SHIP. HE EMAILED ME REGULARLY. LOVE AND PRAYERS, MAX HAMILTON

Stephen Williams

April 6, 2021

Dear Janet, Brian and Roxanne,

I send my deepest sympathy and condolences, and will keep your family in my prayers.

Mel was my favorite boss ever! And Block was my favorite job. Mel hired me in 1992 when I lived in Albany NY, to move to the Mid-Atlantic region. I found out that there was already a salesman in the territory that Mel was planning to hire. He interviewed me as a courtesy to Reggie White, who had recommended me for the job. So I was so surprised when Mel called me about a week after my interview, to inform me that I got the job. I was so shocked and excited. Later I asked Mel what tipped the scale in my favor, when common sense was to hire the other guy. Mel said, “Steve, the other guy came to the interview wanting to know what Block could do for him and you came showing what you could do for Block. I liked your approach better.” That has stuck with me all these years and I’m so indebted to Mel for that decision. I left Block and joined Falcon Bay, again Mel hired me. That became my second favorite job, mainly because of him. We’ve kept in touch via email all these years since Mel retired. I always looked forward to his emails. He will be sorely missed! I have so many fond memories of Mel, but the above is my fondest.

Respectfully,

Steve Williams

Joseph Pace

April 6, 2021

Brian and Roxanne, and Janet,

Sally and I are very sorry to learn of the passing of your Dad. We were all such good friends over the many, many years. He and I had an excellent working relationship in our working years at Block. He and I shared many conversations and working hours together trying hard to contribute in everyway we could to help make the Company successful. Everything we did was not perfect or successful, but many things we did worked well. As you know , much of our work was done by phone with him in New York or Des Moines or on the road somewhere. When in Wilmington he and I spent much time together working on various items. We had such a good relationship in working together that it carried over to a warm friendship that has survived many years long after I left the Company. I am very sorry today to know I have lost a friendship that has probably lasted at least 49 years. That is a long, long time to know and be in touch with a person.

Sally and I hope each of you finds continued success in your lives and know that you have many wonderful memories of your Dad that will sustain and be with you forever. May you find happier days ahead in your lives and families. We also hope your Mother will have peace in her heart.

With our sympathy and condolences and our warm friendships,
stay healthy and stay safe.

Joseph & Sally Pace
Winnabow, North Carolina

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