Irvin J. Harris passed away on July 5 at age 96. Services were held on July 8 at Beth El Cemetery.
He was preceded in death by his wife Martha Zusman Harris, daughter Lori Harris Sweet, parents Reuben and Tibbie Harris, and brother Norman Harris.
He is survived by daughter, Claudia Sherman and daughter and son-in-law, Sindie and Jerry Katskee, and son-in-law Mark Sweet; grandchildren: Mitchel and Shannon Sherman, Jill Sherman, Marci and Derek Mainus of Westminster, CO, Rachel and Edward Winthrop of Robbinsdale, MN, Naomi and Michal Gaca, Aliya and Justin Taylor, and Josh and Jillian Sweet of Norwood-Young America, MN; ten great-grandchildren; brother Lee Harris of Scottsdale, AZ, and many nieces and nephews.
He was born and raised in Omaha, he graduated from North High School and the University of Maryland. He was a proud veteran of nearly 35 years of the U.S. Air Force. Lt. Col. Harris served in three wars and was stationed at some 22 duty assignments worldwide. His career earned him many decorations including the Distinguished Flying Cross and four Air Medals.
After his training and being commissioned a Second Lieutenant, he left his wife of two years for Europe and WWII. He flew twin-engine troop carriers, dropped paratroopers, and towed gliders into combat zones. When the war ended, he remained in Europe. Among his accomplishments was flying Holocaust survivors back to their homelands. He flew to Berlin and Munich, Germany; Paris, France; Pilsen, Czechoslovakia; Vienna, Austria; and many other destinations. As a Jew, he felt a very special sense of pride in having this assignment of helping survivors. He also flew jurists to Nuremberg for the start of the historic trials.
He later served in Okinawa during the Korean War when he guided in a defecting North Korean pilot. During the Vietnam War, he was stationed in Saigon where he flew 136 reconnaissance missions.
He was an Eagle Scout and enjoyed swimming as a youngster. As a young boy, he would deliver groceries from his father’s South Omaha store. His hobbies included collecting stamps, fishing, playing golf, dancing, and watching professional baseball. He spent 40 years of his retirement residing in La Mesa, CA before he returned to Omaha in 2017.
Memorials may be made to the Harris Family Endowment Fund of the Jewish Federation of Omaha Foundation, the Creighton University Hereditary Cancer Center, or American Cancer Society.