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Obit – Bobby Joe Harris

Bobby Joe Harris, 85 of Tiverton, RI passed away on January 18, 2023. He is survived by his wife of 66 years, Diane Harris. He leaves his children Cheryl Shenkle (husband Gordon), Ken Harris, Sheila Shovelton (husband Peter) and Theresa Helger. He also leaves his beloved grandchildren Brittani, Christian, Marissa, Hannah, Zach, Abby, and great-grandchildren MaryJane and Myles. His grandchildren adored their Papa and loved spending time with him and will miss him deeply. Born in Baxter, TN he is the son of the late Tandy and Estelle Harris. He leaves sister Louise Glover, sister-in-law Betty Harris, and many nieces and nephews in TN and RI. He was predeceased by siblings Johnny Harris, Evelyn Cummings, Judy Linda Pippen, Inez Harris, Hallie McBroom, Benton Harris, and Willy Harris.

He was a 20-year US Navy veteran and worked as Boilerman Petty Officer 1st class on destroyers, most notably the USS Gearing touring in the Atlantic, Middle East, and Mediterranean and served during the Cuban Missile Crisis. After Navy retirement, he worked HVAC at Brown University for 30 years working his way up to Lead before retiring in 2006.

Bobby had a lifelong passion for genealogy, bird watching, gardening, watching football, listening to bluegrass music, and serving his community. He was active on the Tiverton Housing Authority, Amicable Congregational Church Trustees, and the USS Gearing Reunion Association. He also served previously as American Legion President for Tiverton/Little Compton, VFW, RI Board of Canvassers, RI HVAC State Licensing Board, Tiverton Republican Party Chairman, Tiverton School Committee, and Tiverton Little League President, baseball, and softball coach.

He was a wonderful husband, Dad, and Papa and loved being surrounded by his family and encouraged his children and grandchildren to pursue their dreams. He loved telling stories, and never met a stranger. People liked his friendly, lighthearted kidding delivered with his southern accent. 

In lieu of flowers, the family encourages donating to Homes for Our Troops or the Amicable Congregational Church in Bobby’s name.

Online tribute at

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