To the Glory of God and in Memory of Harley Dean Phariss
Friday, October 14, 2022 — 11:00 am | Immanuel Lutheran Church — Joplin, Missouri | Officiated by Rev. James Schnackenberg
Harley Phariss Obituary
January 8, 1927 — September 20, 2022
Harley Dean Phariss, 95, formerly of Fairland, Oklahoma, peacefully passed into eternal rest, September 20, 2022, at Neosho, Missouri. Throughout his life he was strong-willed, fun-loving, handsome, independent, charming, argumentative, intelligent, creative, athletic, proud, God-fearing, exasperating, patriotic, adventurous, cantankerous at times and easily moved to tears at others. He was complex! We’ve attempted to capture the essence of his personality here.
Harley was born January 8,1927 at home near Apache, in Caddo County, Oklahoma to Aldine Burns (Lane) Phariss and Willis E. Phariss. He was the fourth of five children, born after Ruby, Neva, and Robert. Harley went to school at Broxton, where he became acquainted with his future bride, Wanda Lou McCay, who was good friends and “homework helper”of his younger brother, Jim. He did well in school academically, and enjoyed all types of sports.
Aldine and Willis raised their children in the Christian faith, strongly influenced by the Methodist, Baptist, and Pentecostal Holiness denominations. The family worked hard, and fun consisted of attending Gospel Sings and socializing with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins on both sides of the family who lived nearby and in New Mexico. When they were young boys, Harley and Robert contracted typhoid fever, likely from swimming in a contaminated pond. The two were gravely ill for over a month. This didn’t stop them from swimming and enjoying other outdoor adventures for the remainder of their childhood.
Harley told many times how lucky he felt that he was there to witness the changes in farming such as using machinery instead of horses and mules. He milked cows, chopped cotton, and worked custom wheat harvest crew, one time even driving a tractor all the way to Montana from Oklahoma and working along the way in Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, and the Dakotas.
When he was drafted to the US Army during World War II, Harley served in Mannheim, Germany as a warehouseman in the 341st Quartermaster Depot Company. When the military discovered his excellent athletic ability, he was assigned to play in the Army baseball league as a member of the 294th QM Group team and in basketball tournaments as part of the 558th QM Salvage and Repair Co., training others, and traveling around Germany to boost morale of US troops stationed there. He told us that they sent him on a fast ship to Europe, and a slow one on the way home. His claim to fame on those voyages was that they were profitable due to his poker-playing skills.
After the war, Harley came home to work a variety of jobs. There was plenty of time between wheat and cotton harvests to go to dance halls and honky-tonks where Bob Wills played Western Swing music. He told us many times how he traveled all over Oklahoma and Texas following his favorite music group. He only came home when the money ran out, so the story goes. Harley also drove school bus and played Oklahoma minor league baseball for many years as well as going to Phillips College in Enid on a basketball scholarship. Rumor has it he didn’t attend class on a regular basis so he wasn’t invited back as a student after the first semester, but only after he played in some instrumental games for the school.
Harley married at 21 years old. Wanda was 18, and they eloped on September 19, 1948, in Henrietta, Texas. They lived with Willis and Aldine for a while, then moved all around Oklahoma and Kansas for Harley’s work. He tried his hand at a lot of jobs in addition to farming, including operator at the Dolese Brothers rock crusher plant. In the late 50s, he began a career in the oil field industry when he was hired by Halliburton as a truck driver. He transferred to Southern California in 1959, so they moved to Buena Park and later Port Hueneme. Harley then went to work for Baker Oil Tools in 1960 in the Oildale community near Bakersfield. He was a good provider and Wanda managed the household which had grown to include Joe,Tim, and Susan.
Harley worked in sales and management for Baker, now known as Baker Hughes, eventually retiring in the mid-80s. Working for them meant more moves, starting from Bakersfield after Mary was born, to the El Rio neighborhood of Oxnard, then on to the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska, back to Oxnard, and one more time to Kenai! In Alaska, he worked the Swanson River oilfield, offshore drilling rigs in Cook Inlet, and Kuparuk oilfield in Prudhoe Bay. Wherever they went, he made lifelong friends.
In 1975, home base became Stark City, Missouri. Harley and his oldest grandson, John, were baptized a couple of years later by James Schnackenberg, who was pastor of First Lutheran—Neosho. Harley enjoyed socializing with his church family, and served on the building committee for the current location of the church building that was dedicated in August 1980.
After farming his beloved herd of polled Hereford cattle, Duroc hogs, laying hens, meat chickens, and peach trees in Stark City, Harley and Wanda moved to Grove, Oklahoma on Grand Lake in the mid-80s. They loved to fish and socialize with their family and friends, especially their church family at St Paul’s in Fairland. Throughout the 80s and 90s they traveled a lot, including several trips to Germany, Alaska, California, and just about anyplace else they had family or friends to visit.
They moved to their home south of Fairland in 1994; it ended up being their last house, and they lived in it more years than any other home they’d ever resided. Harley continued to enjoy wood-working, gardening, lawn care, and fishing, especially trips to Lake Eufala, Fort Cobb, Texoma, Tenkiller, or anywhere his brothers and nephew Jack wanted to go. Family reunions were a high priority every year in addition to any other travel. Harley came up with a variety of locations for the Phariss reunion when it was his turn to host.
Around 2017, Harley and Wanda joined Immanuel Lutheran in Joplin, where they immensely enjoyed the preaching and teaching of Pastor Mech as well as fellowship with special friends, including the comfort dogs, Jackson and Louie, and their handlers. During this time, Wanda’s health declined and she died on September 9, 2020, just ten days before their 72nd wedding anniversary.
Harley continued to live near Fairland until May 2022, when he moved back to Missouri. He and his dog Dixie eventually moved to Gran Villas Assisted Living in Neosho, where they were immediately befriended by many people. The staff worked tirelessly to make sure he was well cared for and content. He made the adjustment to just about everything there except for the city’s drinking water, which he said was terrible. Harley had recently started calling Gran Villas “home” but he missed Wanda, and he was ready for the Lord to call him to his heavenly home.
In addition to his parents and Wanda, he is reunited in heaven with their infant son Gary Dean Phariss, infant granddaughter Sasha Ludine Johnson, and son-in-law Hank Williams Marsh; sisters Ruby Roberts Weber and Neva Jackson, niece Neva Mae (Ron) Weber, brothers-in-law Mitchell Roberts, Angus Weber, and Elmer Jackson, sister-in-law Margie Phariss, and his in-laws Lucille and Oney McCay, Larry (Nita) McCay and their children Karen Lue and Bob, Deveryl (Orville) Tallant, Carl (Marge) McCay, Kenneth Jump, Gerald (Cheryl) McCay, Lil McCay and Dee McCay Scott.
He is survived by: children, Joe, Tim (Kim), Susan, and Mary (Wayne); grandchildren, John (Michelle), Tom (Nancy), Kim (Tim), Sydel (Jay), Noah, Micah, Austin (Mandy),Jada (Kevin), and Merritt (Luke); great-grandchildren, Josh, Coraline, Layla, TJ, Silas, Wyatt, Rylee (Eric), Regan (Levi), Reese, Rowan, Rhett, and Harrison. great-great-grandchildren Jedediah and Emery; brothers Robert Phariss and Jim (Carolyn) Phariss; sister-in-law Carolyn (Jim) Love and brother-in-law Kent Scott; other extended family and many dear friends. He is already greatly missed.
A memorial service will be held at 11:00 am on Friday, October 14 at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Joplin, with family friend Pastor James Schnackenberg officiating.
Harley’s earthly body was cremated and his ashes will be interred in Fairview Cemetery, Apache, Oklahoma at 11:00 am on Saturday, November 5 next to Wanda and Gary Dean.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to Immanuel Lutheran Church, earmarked for the support of the Comfort Dog fund.https://www.campbell-biddlecomefh.com/obituaries/harley-phariss
- About Immanuel Lutheran Church
- What We Believe
- Sunday Worship Services
- Meet our Pastor, Rev. Bill Marler
- Live Stream