MISSOULA – Jay Evan Harris, 52, passed away on Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, in Missoula of complications from a brain injury he sustained in a recent motorcycle accident.
He was born on June 11, 1960, in Harlowton to Everett and Dorothy Harris. As a young boy, he lived with his family in Harlowton and began his education in the school there. In 1971, the family moved to the Florence area and lived a brief time on the Cook ranch before buying the Circle M (Economy One) Motel in Missoula and moving there. He attended Hellgate High School and obtained his GED at a later date. He acquired a degree in welding at White Sulphur Springs. While in school, he enjoyed participating on the swimming and wrestling teams. Most recently he traveled to Florida, where he completed the Major League Baseball Umpiring program to advance the levels he could officiate.
In 1980 he married Melody Brown in Florence. They welcomed a son, Michael, in January, 1981 and were divorced shortly thereafter.
On March 22, 1986, he married Lori Guenther in Missoula. The couple made their home in the Missoula area where Jay worked as a mechanic at Muralt’s Truck Plaza before becoming a customer service writer at Bitterroot Motors. He left his position at Bitterroot Motors to open his own business, Rhino Linings of Missoula. He operated Rhino Linings until 2006 when he sold the company building, but kept the Snug Top business going. He was working as the night crew maintenance supervisor at Southgate Mall at the time of his motorcycle accident. While in these various positions, he made many lifelong friends and was able to help many people. He was known for his knowledge, kindness, fairness, honesty and generosity when dealing with everyone, no matter the circumstances. He always had a joke or funny story to share with anyone he ran into.
He was an avid sports fan and loved his Minnesota Vikings. He enjoyed golfing, gold mining and looking for new business ideas. At the time of his death, he was actively pursuing his passion of officiating. If there was a bat and ball on the field, chances are he was behind the plate making the call. He loved to officiate baseball, softball, football and basketball as he truly enjoyed working with the players, coaches and parents.
A loving husband, father and grandfather, he took great pride in his boys’ many accomplishments and endeavors. He loved to spend time with his grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents.
Survivors include his wife, Lori of Missoula; his sons, Michael (Tiffany) of Fort Stewart, Ga., Andrew and Jacob, both of Missoula; one sister, Vicky (Buster) Lechner of Riverton, Wyo.; brothers, Richard (Texanna), James (Linda) and Monte (Julie), all of Florence; grandchildren, Rebekah and Mason of Fort Stewart, along with many nieces, nephews, cousins, aunts and uncles.
A Celebration of Life Service will be held at Christian Life Center, 3801 S. Russell on Wednesday, Feb. 13 at 1 p.m. Cremation arrangements were under the care of Cremation Burial Society of the Rockies.
The family suggests that in lieu of flowers, memorials be made in memory of Jay Harris to The Humane Society of Western Montana, P.O. Box 1059, Missoula, MT 59806.