David Ira Harris, 81, of Circle died Dec. 3, 2023.
He was born July 15, 1942, in Belle Fourche, S.D., the oldest of three born to Jimmy and Jessie Harris. His siblings are Donna Weeden and Dixie Knutson. He grew up on the Harris family ranch near Ridge. The distance was too great for a daily drive when he reached the age of high school, so off he went to Belle Fourche, S.D., where he stayed with a widower friend of his mother’s and her son Harvey.
To say that he was a prankster was an understatement and he loved to share stories and laugh about his adventures with Harvey. He attended a “Christian high school” in South Dakota for a stint only lasted for half a year. It’s rumored that he caused a bit of mischief while there. During high school, he started playing for country dances. His piano ability spread to the point that old fiddlers in the area wanted to play music with him. He learned old country songs and while playing music was a passion, so was dancing.
After he graduated from high school, he worked for some neighbors in the Ridge country while building his own herd of sheep. He became a pilot around the age of 21. Bachelorhood was filled with ranching and flying until Joanne Wead came along. It only took six full years for him to convince her to marry him. They were married in 1968. As the years went on, they had four children, leased land, ranched and farmed.
In 1986, they bought the Big Sheep Mountain Ranch north of Terry. In 1997, they sold that ranch and moved to Circle, where they started Harris Spraying, Inc.
In 2002, he was voted in as the “Common Sense” Sheriff of McCone County. He protected and served as sheriff for 19 years.
His cooking skills included eggs, steak and taters. Otherwise, he would eat just about anything that someone else would fix for him.
He loved listening and playing country music. He played the tuba, lead and rhythm guitar and the piano. There was a time when he learned the fiddle and all the cats left the ranch.
When asked what his favorite thing was about being sheriff, he said it was “helping” people — pulling them out of the ditch when stuck or being there when families were dealing with tragedy or heartache. It’s a true reflection of who he was.
He was preceded in death by his son, Devin.
He is survived by children, Brent Harris of Lake George, Colo., Bill Harris of Circle and Julianne Harris of Colorado Springs, Colo.; and seven grandchildren.
Funeral services were held Monday, Dec. 11, at Break Forth Bible Church in Glendive. A graveside service was held Tuesday, Dec. 12, at Ridge Cemetery in Carter County.