Louise P. Harris left this world peacefully on Wednesday, Nov. 25, as a result of heart failure. She was preceded in death by her husband, Peter T. Harris, and survived by her four children, David in Winthrop, Karen in Paris, France, Chris in Seattle, and Margaret (Chesler) in San Francisco, as well as five grandchildren, Lenny, Tim, Brielle, Arin, and Alexis.
Born in Chicago on Oct. 17, 1927, to Bertrand Posthumus and Ethel Greene, she grew up in Niles, Michigan. After attending Albion College, then the University of Michigan where she got her degree in nursing in 1949, she left the Midwest for the West Coast, doing a photographic expedition through national parks along the way. She settled in Oakland, California, working as a pediatric nurse and freelance photographer. At St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in neighboring Berkeley, she found a thriving group of young, interesting people. There she met Peter Harris, whom she married in 1957.
As members for almost 20 years they both sang in the choir and “Lou” was choir librarian while Peter served as treasurer. After moving to Berkeley and starting a family, she noticed the growing street population of young and homeless. Joining a small group of concerned people, Lou was instrumental in setting up the Berkeley Free Clinic to address their needs. She was nurses’ coordinator there in the late 1960s and early ’70s.
She passed on to her children a love for the outdoors and, in summer, would pack up the camper for vacations in the Sierra foothills. After her husband bought back his family’s homestead in Okanogan, they slowly pulled up their roots moving in 1973 to a place with new opportunities for their four children and room to spread out.
Lou was very active at the local Episcopal church, later St. Anne’s, serving as lay reader, giver of the sacrament, warden and gardener. She was on the board of Okanogan Family Planning as well as participating in the hospice movement. With the Community Chorus, she sang and was choir librarian for many years. She played with the recorder consort and took part in several Gilbert and Sullivan musicals. She traveled four times to Europe satisfying a desire to see the world as well as her daughter in France. She even hitchhiked alone due to a rail strike in Scotland.
Lou was a devoted wife, mother, friend and neighbor. Among her loves: the family, gardening, sweet desserts, baroque music, “restoring things to usefulness” and good conversation. With tireless energy, she got things done in her own non-conformist way, accepting others as they accepted and appreciated the character that she was. She was an amazing woman. We will miss her greatly. A memorial service will be held at St. Anne’s Episcopal Church in Omak on Dec. 20 at 4 p.m.