OTD: Long-time WPS member Bob Harris dies

On today’s date in 2019, Bob Harris, a long-time member of the Winnipeg Philatelic Society (WPS), died about one week before his 85th birthday.

Harris joined the WPS in 1975—the same year as his son, Robin, who served as the society’s president from 1991-93 and as the editor of its newsletter, The Buffalo, from 1985-94 and 2004-06.

The younger Harris is also the editor of the Unitrade Specialized Catalogue of Canadian Stamps and The Canadian Philatelist, the official journal of the Royal Philatelic Society of Canada.

“Bob joined the WPS in 1975 and attended meetings fairly regularly and occasionally the past few years,” said WPS Treasurer Michael Zacharias. “He was also very active in school stamp clubs.”

Born in Virden, Man., on Feb. 8, 1934, Harris studied at Brandon College but also attended McMaster University Divinity School in Hamilton, Ont., and the University of Manitoba faculty of education.

He married his wife of 61 years, Beverley Tolton, in 1957.

ENCOURAGING YOUNG COLLECTORS

After marrying, the Harrises moved about 45 kilometres southwest from Brandon to Souris, where Bob taught high school classes for two years before moving to Wawanesa, where he was then a principal for five years.

Harris then worked for the River East School Division in several schools before his retirement from education in 1989. During that time, he co-ordinated several school-based stamp clubs for which he’s fondly remembered.

In the 1960s, Harris also encouraged his son to pick up the hobby, offering him his stamp collection. Given permission to take whatever he wanted, the younger Harris decided on his father’s U.S. issues.

“I’ve always been a fan of U.S. stamps, and I prepared an exhibit on the American Revolution using those stamps,” the younger Harris told CSN last year, adding he’s also fond of Britain’s “Machin” definitives.

In spring 2011, students at Springfield Heights nominated the elder Harris for a Mayor’s Senior of the Year Award for his long-time commitment to serving the community. In October, he was presented with his award, this in the arts and education category, by Mayor Sam Katz.

“I was very surprised. I had no idea about it until they told me a couple weeks before I got it. That was real slick,” said Harris in 2011.

Henri Dupuis, a teacher librarian at Springfield Heights, added: “He gives so freely of his time to teach and advise our students. He really is a role model to them.”

Harris was also a pastor for several churches, including Tabernacle Baptist Church and Pilgrim Baptist Church, which he served for nearly 25 years.

He was also active in the Kiwanis Club of East Kildonan since 1967.

Harris’ funeral was held in West St. Paul, Man., on Feb. 16, 2019.

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