Navy Veteran: Hall of Fame B-Ball Player, Summer Camp Founder and More

Author: MVH Scarborough
Posted: January 26, 2020
Category: Maine Veterans of the Month

Barbara Harris’s list of accomplishments are endless.

The World War II Navy Veteran (1943-1946) built with her own hands a cabin in the woods of West Enfield, Maine, is a Hall of Fame women’s basketball player, taught at one of the country’s top women’s colleges and educated Maine campers about the environment, the universe and God.

Now, at age 96, Harris doesn’t think her accomplishments stand out; those who know her,  however, would beg to differ.

Lifelong Passions: Athletics, Nature

While in primary school, Harris was a natural athlete and cultivated a passion for bballharrissports, especially basketball, field hockey and lacrosse. From that point on, sports and physical activity would be a guiding influence in her life. Following her basic education, Barbara went to college at Bangor Maine School of Commerce (now Husson University) and acquired a Bachelor’s Degree in physical education. In 1991, she was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.

While in college, she designed, built and furnished a log cabin in 1942 that she named, “Wakullacoa.” She gathered the logs for the cabin herself and installed the windows and the roof – the most difficult parts of the process, she said.

“I didn’t know how to do any of that. The Lord told me how to do it,” she said.

When it was completed, she welcomed friends and family via a handmade invitation:

The camp is done, the leaves are red

And soon the snow will fall.

It brings to mind the promise made

To have a joyous brawl.

With the woods for room and

Food to spare

We’re ready to entertain

So come prepared to christen

The best pole camp in Maine.

The stunning log cabin would be a gathering point for many of her friends and family during her college years.

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Barbara Enlists in the Navy

When Harris graduated from college in 1943, she joined the Navy where she worked as a secretary to a Chief Accountant. She completed three years of service and was honorably discharged in 1946. Subsequent to leaving, she had a fantastic opportunity to teach at one of the nation’s top private women’s colleges, Sweet Briar College in Sweet Briar, Virginia. She taught physical education there for a few years until she met her first husband, Lyman Lamson, and moved back to Maine to be with him. They had four children together.

When Harris settled back in Maine, she combined her passions for teaching, love for the environment, writing and her faith. It was then she co-founded Camp Good News in Livermore Falls, which is still operational. In fact, the signs that still welcome visitors today were hand carved by Harris.

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A Natural Poet

Harris looks back on her time with Camp Good News with much fondness.  It was here she created a character called “Eco” (short for Ecology) who assisted in her lessons about nature. Barbara keeps a magazine of her work about Eco, titled “Eco’s Poems and Others Relating to God’s Great Creation.”

On the beginning pages is this introduction:

Dedicated to all who love’s God creation

There are some pages in God’s Holy Book

That tell us of the great Creation Day

When God created the heavens and the earth,

Let us find out just what he word has to say

 Unlock this mystery in that special book

Which is in Eco’s Nature Hut in the library nook

The verses in Genesis 1 are not just a few

Think of God’s power as you read them through!

Another poem published in the magazine:

Eco’s says God created the heavens and the earth and by his word he caused the birth of every plant and animal, fish and bird, and even you – oh, hadn’t you heard?

It is my solemn duty to make all aware that these are His gifts for all to share.

By his wisdom and power he ordered each one

To fulfil its purpose under the sun

(It is all recorded in Genesis 1!)

It still brings Harris great joy to read these poems.

Light!

Horray for the light!

If it’s all right

I’ll take some time today

To help you praise

And God’s name to raise

For making light – Hooray! Hooray!

It helps us see

Sight could not be

Without God’s gift of light

It’s speedy fast

I’ll say at last!

186,000 miles per second in its flight!

Thank god! Thank god! Hooray for light!

Barbara married Clinton Harris three years after her first husband passed away and together they built a second full sized home in Auburn. Barbara did all of the architectural drawings and designs for this home.

Harris resides at Maine Veterans Homes - Scarborough where she is January’s Veteran of the Month. She is humble about all of her great accomplishments and her wonderful life. She enjoys reading, puzzles, adores all kinds of dogs and spending time with family. 

Thank you for your service, Barbara.

About Maine Veterans' Homes

About 85 percent of residents at Maine Veterans' Homes are Veterans; it's a place where those who served our country, like Barbara, find camaraderie being with like minded folks. We also care for their spouses and Gold Star parents. To find out if you or your loved one is eligible for residence at one of our six Homes, download our free Eligibility Guide >>>

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