Service Date March 14, 2020
Service Location Siebert Chapel at Carthage College
A memorial service is scheduled for Saturday, March 14th beginning at 4:00 pm at the Siebert Chapel at Carthage College, 2001 Alford Park Drive. Memorial contributions may be made to the Mae and Jack Harris Scholarship Fund, Carthage College, Kenosha, WI 53140 or to the Kenosha Community Foundation, 600 52nd Street, Kenosha, WI 53140.
Jack Harris often stated that he was a typical product of a liberal arts education. “I have an interest in all kinds of things,” he would say. Jack, who died Monday at his home in Pleasant Prairie, had a career and involvement in a myriad of activities. He was an artist, a writer, a cartoonist, a teacher, a woodworker and a fund raiser, all coupled with a sense of humor.
Born on August 18, 1927 on a farm near Stockton, IL, the son of the late Ivan and Matilda Harris, he was educated in public schools in Lena, IL. He attended Carthage College, then located in Carthage, IL, graduating in 1949. During the next year he completed a master’s degree from the University of Iowa. In 1952 he married Mae Voth and their relationship lasted for more than 67 years and produced three children.
Jack’s education was interrupted with service in the U.S. Army in 1946-47. As a Surgical Technician, he was stationed at the base hospital in Camp Stoneman, CA.
In 1950, he began a career at Carthage College that would last for nearly 30 years. He was initially publicity director and an instructor in journalism. Following his marriage to Mae, the two of them moved to Colorado where he served as publicity director for the Colorado School of Mines. The following year he and Mae returned to Illinois where he had been promoted to public relations director. A few years later he was named director of development and in 1959 was appointed vice president for development, a position he held until 1979.
Jack, his wife and their three children moved to Kenosha in 1962. At that time Carthage opened a new campus, having relocated from Illinois. In his role as vice president, he coordinated a multi-million dollar fund raising campaign to provide new buildings and facilities.
In 1979 he resigned from Carthage to become president of the Siebert Lutheran Foundation in Milwaukee. As a fund raiser for Carthage, he raised millions of dollars. At Siebert, the role was reversed and he was responsible for distributing millions of dollars in grants to charitable organizations. The Siebert Lutheran Foundation presently has an endowment of about 95 million dollars.
Active in numerous civic organizations, he was a board member of Kenosha United Way, Kenosha Girl Scouts, Kenosha County Crippled Children and Adults Board, Lakeshore Chapter American Red Cross, the Kenosha Rotary Club, and Friends of the Kenosha Museums. He served as Kenosha Chairman of National Brotherhood Week, Kenosha March of Dimes campaign, and was co-chairman of the 1971 United Way campaign. He was a board member of five philanthropic foundations, including the Kenosha Community Foundation and the Kenosha Museums Foundation. After retiring in 1993, he and his friend Jim Seymour reorganized the Kenosha Community Foundation. He was then designated as a board member, a position he held for 25 years.
Jack held memberships in several organizations, including the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (past district director), Donors Forum of Wisconsin (past board chairman), Downtown Milwaukee Kiwanis Club (past officer) and Lutherans of Wisconsin. He was appointed by former Governor Tommy Thompson to serve two terms on Wisconsin’s Higher Education Aids Council. He received two citations from the governor in recognition of his service.
In 1993 he was named “Lutheran Man of the Year” by the Lutherans of Wisconsin, Inc. Carthage College presented him with the President’s Medal and the Flame Award, the latter is the highest honor given by the college. He was also named Trustee Emeritus of Carthage, and President Emeritus of the Siebert Lutheran Foundation.
Jack was a member of Trinity Lutheran Church for more than 40 years, serving two terms as council president. He was also active in synodical and national activities of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. At the time of his death, he was a member of St. Mary’s Lutheran Church.
His major hobbies included cartooning and writing, and his drawings and stories have appeared in national magazines and newspapers. While living in Carthage, Il, he wrote a weekly column for the local newspaper. He was also a contributing feature writer for the Milwaukee Sentinel. He was also an accomplished rosemaler and woodworker. In retirement he maintained a busy schedule with volunteer work, woodworking, gardening and antique furniture restoration. To help pay for his college education, he designed inscriptions on tombstones for a monument company and painted signs for business establishments.
He is survived by his wife and two children: Jolie Prasser (Glen) of Cincinnati, OH and Scott Harris (Rosalinda) of Tampa, FL. Survivors also include four grandchildren, one great grandchild and a brother, Norman Harris (Bonnie) of Warren, IL. He was preceded in death by a brother: Burdette Harris (Joan) of Woodstock, IL and by his daughter Jennifer Badertscher and her husband, Roy of Waukesha, WI.