Area man leaves lasting impression on Our Town

By Anna Carrera

Published 06/05 2014 03:57PM

Updated 06/05 2014 06:21PM

GIFFORD -- In a village of fewer than 1,000 people, one person can make a big difference. WCIA-3's Anna Carrera shows us how one man made a lasting impact in Our Town.

If what goes around, comes around, Sam Harris was probably always due for some good karma.

"I knew he was a great guy and I knew he, for his friends, he was always helping them do whatever they needed to do," said Sam's daughter, Kelli. 

As a little girl, Kelli looked up to him for a lot of reasons. For one, the volunteer firefighter never let little things get in the way of doing something he loved.

"He had been in a car accident when he was 17 and had lost his leg," said Kelli. "There was a little concern about whether or not he would be able to meet the physical demands of being on the fire department. They quickly realized, after he got on, that was not going to be an issue at all."

As she grew older, so did he. But, you wouldn't know it by how busy he stayed.

"He really could do anything," said Kelli. "Didn't matter what it was, building, plumbing, cars. They'd stop and say, 'Hello,' to Sam."

For more than 30 years, Sam fixed cars right across the street from where his wife worked. But then one day, the president of Gifford State Bank offered him a proposition.

"There's somebody who knows this bank as good as anyone else and it's Sam Harris," said bank president Tony McClain.  

So Sam added a few more titles to his resume, maintenance man and super sweeper. That's because he went the extra mile when he was asked to make sure the front of the bank looked clean.

"Well, the next thing I know, he starts down there and finishes down there because he wanted the entire town to be cleaned and that was important to Sam," said Tony. 

If you couldn't tell already, Gifford was very important to Sam. But, it wasn't until after he died in February that his family found out just how important he was to the people here.

"The blessing under the tragedy is finding out really what an amazing person he was to so many people," said Kelli.  

After he passed away, a flood of cards told stories Sam never shared; from simple acts of kindness to true acts of heroism after November's tornado.

"He was very serious because there were live wires around," said Kelli. "He told the kids, 'You step where I step and we're going to be okay and we're going to get out of here.'"

It's no surprise people cared so much about the man with the biggest heart. 

"Those stories have been really heartwarming and have really helped us through this tough time," said Kelli. "He never did those things because he was trying to impress anybody."

But, he definitely did and all the love he gave for so many years has come full circle as his legacy lives on.

"Definitely I know my dad's going to be missed," said Kelli.  

Nearly everyone has their own story to share about Sam, so it's easy to see how much he'll be missed.

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