SHELLEY – Long-time practicing attorney Alva Harris passed away Wednesday, February 23, after a defiant battle with cancer. He was 87 years old. (See obituary.)
Alva Harris moved to Shelley in 1962 as a young lawyer and continued to practice law for 55 years until he retired in 2007. Before attending law school, he married Evelyn Cook, daughter of Frank, and Anna Cook of Goshen. Alva and Evelyn made Shelley their home, where they raised their eight children.
Alva was an ambitious young lawyer who took an interest in the community and ways to improve it. “He got a bunch of gentlemen together to create Idaho Supreme Company. He was instrumental in doing the legal work to put it together,” Alva’s good friend Kent Carlson said. “Alva got involved in many issues involving the schools and the city. He did it not to make money but as a public service.”
Mr. Harris was a strongly opinionated and conscientious person who loved Shelley. He would often involve himself in controversial issues, but he did so to protect people’s interests. For example, in the early 1970s, he stood up against the high school, forcing young women to wear dresses instead of pants to school. He and a few others prevailed on the issue.
“He had more influence over people than the average person because he had decisive opinions. And, he worked through those decisive opinions to win his case,” said Carlson.
But, most importantly, Alva Harris was a religious family man, and family came first to him and his wife, Evelyn. “We live next to the Harris’ for 37 years,” Karen Peterson, a next-door neighbor, said. “There was always something going on at their home with their children and grandchildren. To them, their children and grandchildren came first.”
Alva Harris was a positive person who loved life and all that was in it. As his obituary stated, he played early morning basketball into his 80’s. “I would see him moving pipe full of water up until just a few years ago. He approached life like those pipes full of water, always being positive and never letting things get him down,” Peterson said.
Another example of Harris’ positive approach to life was an old weeping willow tree in their yard. For years, their kids played in that tree. But one day, it died. “When it died, Alva trimmed it so the grandchildren could still play in it,” Peterson said.
Many who knew Alva Harris knew him to be a religious and devout member of his faith. “He was a scriptorian and understood and lived by the scriptures,” Carolee Carlson, a friend of Alva, said.
He encouraged others to live the same way. “When it came to religion, he studied it and prayed about it,” said Peterson. “He taught others to do the same.”
For more than a half of a century, Alva Harris was part of the fabric that made up Shelley. He will be missed.