Larry Dean “Whitey” Harris
Trustee Achievement Award
Nominated by Jim Brewer
Larry (Whitey) Harris was born in Mt. Vernon, Ohio to parents Frank & Esther Harris
on October 16, 1939. His Dad coached him in baseball between the ages
of 10-17. He lived on a farm on Drakes Valley Road, between Loudonville
and Nashville. When he and his brother Bob were growing up they mowed
the pasture in their backyard with a hand mower so they could play baseball.
They would play in the backyard for hours.
Larry and his brother Bob would anxiously wait for their Dad to get home
from work from the Flxible Company so they could have a decent pitcher to
throw batting practice. If they weren't playing ball in the backyard they would
throw the ball up against the stone foundation in front of the house to catch
ground balls on the rebound. The siding took a terrible beating from their
numerous misses, but neither Frank nor Esther complained.
They often rode to work with their Dad at 6:00am to go down to the park
to play more organized ball that was sponsored by the village. Coach Harry
Stetler would get things started promptly at 9am and they would split in to
teams. They would play a few games throughout the day and walk back to
Flxible to catch a ride home.
Whitey played and lettered in varsity baseball three years at Loudonville
High School. He also played on the Loudonville Post American Legion team,
coached by his Dad.
Larry married high school sweetheart, Susan Heffelfinger after graduation.
They have four sons, Brad, Brett, Brent, and Barry and one daughter,
Kay. When the children were very young they purchased a home adjoining
Riverside Park, in Loudonville. His family literally grew up on the ball diamond.
Whitey helped develop the Loudonville Youth Association. He started
the T-ball league in Loudonville, when Barry was four years old. He coached T-ball, Little League, Pony League, Hot Stove and Legion baseball. Most summers,
he coached 2-3 teams. He sponsored at least two youth teams for many
years while his children were playing and still sponsors a team every year. He
also sponsored and coached and played for Harris Automotive semi-pro team
for several years. He was president of the Loudonville Youth Associations for
one year and Director for several years. Whitey helped to design Loudonville
High School's Baseball field and later Brad and he put in the grass infield. The
paid for and laid the sod.
All of his sons were very active in all aspects of baseball from playing
to coaching. Kay played summer softball and kept the scorebook when her
brothers and Dad played ball. Whitey, Jerry Nickles, Ken Long, Dave (C.R.)
Quickle, and Andy Grassman took care of the baseball fields for over 20 years.
Whitey also started the concession stand in Riverside Park. The family, with a
lot of community support, ran it.
Larry was Ohio High School Baseball Umpire and National Baseball
Congress Commissioner for the State of Ohio for four years.
Whitey has owned Harris Automotive in Loudonville for 45 years and
still works there. Brent is an automotive technician, while Kay and granddaughter,
Crystal take care of the office. All of his children have worked in
the business over the years. Five of his grandchildren have worked at Harris
Automotive to earn money to help pay for college.
Whitey and Susan have 10 grandchildren, LeeAnn (Tom) Kline, Adam
England, Crystal England, Lindsey (Doug) Staats, Kevin Harris, Lake Harris,
Grant Harris, Ashley Harris, Emma Harris, and Derek Mutchler. They also
have one great grandson, Kevin Bradlee Harris, Jr.
Whitey and Susan celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in August
2008. They enjoy spending time with their grandchildren and watching them
play sports. They like to vacation in Florida and Nashville, Tennessee and
enjoy a family outing to Cleveland to watch the tribe. They have attended the
CMA Festival for the last 20 years. Whitey's other enthusiasms are chocolate
and his spoiled white boxer, Poochie and his business "partner" Russell, the
orange tiger cat. Whitey also likes to collect local baseball photos and keeps
them on display at Harris Automotive.