DAVE BENNETT HARRIS
1948 to 2021
A need for speed
Dave Bennett Harris—a man with a scholar’s mind, passion for motorcycles, and need for speed—passed away from Acute Myeloid Leukemia at the Kate B. Reynolds Hospice Home, Winston Salem, North Carolina, on Friday, February 19, 2021. His wife and two children were at his bedside throughout. He was 72.
A stay-at-home-dad for six years, Dave raised his son and daughter all during their toddler stages and had the distinction of being the first and only member of the Clemmons West Babysitting Co-op to have a profile written about him in the Clemmons Courier.
The only child of Dorothy (Brehmer) and Philip Allen Harris, a postal worker, Dave was born May 23, 1948 in Danville, VA. Raised in Springfield, he loved riding his 3-speed English racer, playing badminton and fishing with his dad. After graduating from Thomas Edison High School, he attended George Mason University in Fairfax, VA, majoring in economics.
In 1968, he left GMU near the end of his senior year to enlist in the US Army and served two tours in Vietnam with distinction. Honorably discharged in 1972, he received the Vietnam Service Ribbon, Army Commendation Medal and an Oak Leaf Cluster (OLC). Much later, he was classified permanently disabled due to PTSD.
After his military service, Dave worked for Amtrak in Washington DC, where both he and Lynda Moore were employed in the Operations Department. Their first date was at Dave’s Springfield townhouse due to his recovering from surgery. All Lynda recalls is that he microwaved expensive steaks, something that shocked her, as did his impromptu declaration that he was a born again Christian.
They married on March 7, 1981 in the historic Presbyterian Meeting House in Alexandria, VA. The intimate, elegant wedding was followed by Garbage Pizza (so named on the menu) at home that night. Married for 40 years, Lynda is apt to portray herself as Dave’s “long-suffering wife.”
In the next breath, she describes her husband as a “terrific father.” Daughter Julia Marie was born in 1985, and—after the Harris’ bought a single-family home in Springfield—Dylan Bennett came along in 1990. When Dylan was 11 months, they moved to Clemmons, NC due to Lynda’s job as a reservations agent with Piedmont Airlines, which became part of US Airways, and then American Airlines. Dave was Equipment Utilization Manager when he left Amtrak after 17 years.
Once in Clemmons, the stay-at-home dad got the kids dressed, fed and off to school every morning, instilling in them a Christ-centered faith. He said the birth of his children was his proudest achievement.
“Daddio,” as daughter Julia called her father, devoted many an evening to brushing her long, red hair and ridding her bedroom of ghosts. She vividly recalled waking him up one night and crying that she’d seen a one in her room. Half asleep, Dave stumbled downstairs and retrieved a rectangular battery with two prongs on top.
“Sweetheart,” he said, handing her the battery, “if you touch your tongue to the top of the battery, and it gives you a little zap, then you know it’s working to zap the ghosts away.”
“So yes,” Julia laughed, “my daddio encouraged me to lick batteries nightly at a very young age. Needless to say, I was never afraid of the ghosts again.”
Son Dylan never worried about ghosts; he was too eager to absorb every bit of his dad’s vast knowledge of motorcycles as possible. The two spent endless hours riding together, working on their bikes in the garage, and breaking and fixing all sorts of motorized devices. Conversant in bike-speak, Dylan rattles off the various motorcycles “of many different marques” his dad had ridden and owned, from BSAs, Nortons, and Triumphs in the mid 60’s to Harley’s, Hayabusas and Kawasakis in the 2010’s.
“He once rode across the US in five days with his friend David Smitley, who accompanied him on a Harley hardtail the entire way,” Dylan said. “They stopped to fashion roadside kidney belts to combat the inadequacies of suspension technology in that time.” In later years, he added, his dad’s “passion spilled over into vehicles of the 4-wheeled variety, namely Mercedes.”
In honor of his father, who was 30 when he traveled the US, Dylan did a much more extensive cross-country ride for his own 30th birthday this past summer. Clearly, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.
“A remarkable mind”
Once their children entered school, Dave returned to the job market, ultimately serving as shipping and receiving manager at Frisby Aerospace. He also worked for Roger Marion Automotive as a service writer. Among his duties were fielding customer’s automotive questions, handling billing, and tracking parts. He loved the work. It was fast paced, Lynda said, and he was good at it.
Well read, with an encyclopedic brain, Dave was also something of a scholar when it came to WW II. But speed was his obsession, experiencing speed and building the fastest, legal, street motorcycles possible.
“Much of this can be attributed to the many happy days he spent with his friends at Roger Marion’s Automotive,” Dylan said.
Unfortunately, Dave was forced to retired in 2013, when he was diagnosed with PTSD from serving in the Vietnam war.
“I’m a man and all Hells Angels is men…”
Anyone who knew Dave well recalls his favorite saying, a Hunter Thompson quote he used jokingly at every single possible opportunity: “I’m a man and all Hell’s Angels is men and there just ain’t too much of that around.”
At 6-feet-1 and 200 pounds, Dave tended toward oversized blue jeans, a T-shirt, denim jacket and Amsterdam baseball cap. A fashionista he wasn’t. And he chewed gum in “Oh such an annoying way,” Lynda said. He was also a homebody, reluctant to ever join his wife, who loved to travel and could do so for practically nothing due to her airline job.
But he had a great sense of humor, loved his family and friends, especially his good friend and former boss Roger Marion. And Punkin, his precious guard cat that made sure Dave was safe day and night by killing any threatening predators, including chipmunks.
Dave also saw every episode of Blue Bloods and The Andy Griffith Show more than once and loved The Rifleman. Lynda will always think of her husband every time she hears the “Bam-bam-bam-bam” of the rifle at the opening of the latter. He also got a kick out of old movies. One of the last he and Lynda watched was The Invisible Man from 1933.
Although their marriage suffered major ups and downs, and Dave centered his time and attention on his children and motorcycles, he was brimming with gratitude and love during his illness, realizing that he had married his guardian angel in Lynda.
The Wild Ones
Just hours before Dave passed, he and Dylan watched The Wild Ones, starring Marlon Brando and Lee Marvin. The 1953 movie was an all-time favorite of Dave’s, one that he could quote lines from verbatim.
Predeceased by his parents, Dave is survived by his wife, Lynda Moore Harris of Clemmons, NC; daughter Julia Marie Harris (Tony Edgerton) of Winston Salem, and son Dylan Harris of Chattanooga, TN.
A memorial service in Dave’s honor will be held March 3rd at 10:30am at Frank Vogler and Sons Funeral Home, 2849 Middlebrook Dr., Clemmons, NC. Masks are mandatory and social distancing suggested. Burial to follow at 1pm at Salisbury National Cemetery, Salisbury, NC.
We want to extend our deepest, heartfelt appreciation to Dr. James Dugan and the staff at Novant Hematology and Cancer Clinic, especially Jamie, Kim and Joi, as well as to Dave’s outstanding nurse on 9West, Ellen. We are equally grateful to Dr. Bipin Savani and Nurse Practioners Hava Fife and Rachael Hammers at the VA Tennessee Valley Healthcare System, Stem Cell Transplant Center in Nashville, TN. The work they do is nothing short of miraculous and we have the highest regard for all these medical professionals.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in the name of Dave Bennett Harris to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Donor Services, (Leukemia & Lymphoma Society | Donate Today! (lls.org), PO Box 98018, Washington, DC 20090-8018. All pray that a cure will be found for daughter Julia Marie who contracted Chronic Myeloid Leukemia in 2018.
The family also requests that people consider becoming a Bone Marrow Donor via Be The Match Foundation (Donate Marrow or Blood Stem Cells | Be The Match). Donations to that organization and inquires on how to become a donor can be made thru BTMF, NW 5948, PO Box 1450, Minneapolis, MN 55485.