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 sports, 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.
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.
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.
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 >>>