Joseph Harris

Joseph Don "Joe" Harris

1971 - 2020

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Obituary of Joseph Don Harris

Gogora (adjective) Basque word meaning “to be resilient and to persevere with persistent determination.”  This word defines the very essence of our husband, father, son, brother, and friend, Joe Harris.  He passed away on November 1, 2020 after a long and courageous 21-year battle with ALS. 

Joseph Don Harris was born June 4, 1971 in Jerome, Idaho to Don Harris and Connie Urrutia (Stauts). He shared many hobbies with his Dad and was undoubtedly a mama’s boy.  Joe was the first-born son and the most incredible big brother to Michael and Keri.  Don and Connie remarried and gave Joe four more siblings that he adored; Justin Burdick and Shawn, Bryan, and Jennifer Harris.  He took his job as big brother very serious by relentless teasing, fierce protection, and always giving words of wisdom and advice when needed. 

Joe was athletic, excelling in any sport he put his mind to.  Be it football, baseball, skiing, or fighting (ha!).  He earned his nickname “Smokin’ Joe” because though he was small, he was mighty!  He was “fast” and skilled at everything he did. He often earned the award for most inspirational player, which was a character trait he was known for throughout his life.  Joe was a loyal “fan.”  His commitment to his favorite teams the Cowboys, Mariners, and Lakers was steadfast and unwavering.    

After high school, Joe worked for the Shoshone BLM during the summer months.  As a natural leader from a young age, Joe became an assistant crew leader and positively impacted the lives of many young men.  He made many lifelong friends at the BLM and will be affectionately remembered for his ornery antics and enthusiastic leadership. 

Joe graduated from Boise State University with a degree in Exercise Science.   This is where he met the love of his life, Jill Cornwell.  They turned a college crush into a life of commitment and unconditional love.  Joe was a diehard Boise State Fan, bleeding blue and never missing a home football game where he was a season ticket holder. 

Joe and Jill were determined and focused on their shared goal of becoming Physical Therapists.  They both attended Idaho State University where they graduated and began their careers in Pocatello, Idaho.  They were married and shortly after graduating, they welcomed their most treasured gift to the world, Katie Marie Harris. 

Joe was an adventure seeker at his core. As a child and young man he built his life around experiencing the joys of the outdoors and sports.  Joe was a true sportsman.  He was a master storyteller and could spend hours sharing endless stories about deer, elk, and bird hunting with his Dad, Brothers, Grandfathers (OJ Harris and Johnny Urrutia), and his good friends over the years. He knew every Idaho mountain range and fishing hole- from Clear Creek to Henry’s Lake…..and although he was known as “Eagle Eye Harris,” he never did see the Big Blue Buck from Castlerock.  Joe found solace in the outdoors.  He shared this love with many friends and family members.  He was a teacher to many and it brought him joy to see others experience the sanctuary of nature and experience the sport of hunting and fishing.

We were all blessed to learn many valuable lessons from Joe during his 49 years, he had a brilliant mind and a wise heart.  Among our favorites: “Hard things only make us stronger”, “If you love your job you’ll never work a day in your life”, “Don’t stand in judgement of others but kneel in judgement of yourself”, and “Teach your children Gogora.” 

Joe is preceded in death by his father and step-mother, Don and Nancy Harris; brother, Shawn Harris, and many of his grandparents.  Joe leaves behind his beloved wife, Jill and their daughter, Katie; mother, Connie (Frank) Stauts; step-father, Doug Burdick; brother, Michael (Clint) Keithley; sister, Keri (Jim) Noll; brother, Justin (Tina) Burdick; brother, Bryan (Krista) Harris; sister, Jennifer (Joe) Navas; grandfather, Jim (Beverly) Gray; father-in-law, Mark (LaVelle) Cornwell; mother-in-law, Maxine Cornwell, and brothers-in law: Todd (Beth) Cornwell and Scott Cornwell; 16 nieces and nephews that he loved dearly, and many more family and friends that he cherished which are too numerous to name.

Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 11:00 AM at Holy Apostles Catholic Church, 6300 N. Meridian Rd. in Meridian on Thursday, November 5th.  For those unable to attend in person, please join the family virtually at  This day we will bury his body and mind, but his spirit will live on in the hearts of those he loved most.  His dreams and his example of humanity will be remembered by those who ever knew him or who were touched by his unsolicited acts of kindness.  Let us honor Joe’s legacy by living a life of adventure and Gogora.  Live life to the fullest by demonstrating grit and determination, give to those less fortunate than you, find the good in all situations, but most of all live life well for tomorrow isn’t promised.  In lieu of flowers, Joe requests that you donate to your favorite charity or to the local food bank.  Remembrances may be left for Joe’s family on his webpage at  Services are under the care of Accent Funeral Home and Cremation, Meridian.

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