Alva Alton Harris, 87, of Shelley, Idaho, passed away of cancer on February 23, 2022, after a long and productive life, surrounded by his family.
Alva was blessed with high energy and optimism for life, traits that his children and grandchildren admired him for, and hoped that they “got that gene.” Born in Shelby, MT, as the 5th of 7 children in the Lee and Mila Harris family, he was raised in Cut Bank, MT. The winters there were long and cold, often recorded as the coldest place in the nation. His family was poor, and at one time as a child he slept in an unheated boxcar that had been attached to the family’s home, with his cat on his chest to help him stay warm. Nonetheless, he thoroughly enjoyed his childhood of rambling throughout the countryside, fishing and swimming in the Cut Bank River during the summers, and playing ice hockey in the winters.
When Alva was nine years old, his mother and some of his siblings were baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Alva also decided to join. As he listened to the missionaries, their words came to him like an echo from the past, and he knew that they were true. Alva served faithfully in many callings throughout his life, and worked tirelessly to pass on his testimony of Jesus Christ to his children and others, whether as a Primary teacher or as a High Councilor.
He developed a love of sports early in life, lettering in all sports available at Cut Bank high school—throwing the javelin in track, playing catcher in baseball, running many touchdowns in football, and enjoying his favorite sport of all, basketball. In addition, he traveled and performed with the school’s a capella choir in Washington, DC, New York and Philadelphia, and graduated from Cut Bank High School in 1952.
Alva attended BYU in Provo, Utah, for two years before accepting a call to serve an LDS mission to the Texas Louisiana mission, later renamed the Southern States mission. He was always grateful for the privilege of serving the Lord full-time during those two years. After he returned from his mission to Cut Bank, he prayed about being led to his future wife. The Lord told him to go to Idaho, so he quickly moved to Ucon, Idaho, and stayed with his sister, Wanda, and her family. Sure enough, he soon met his future wife, Evelyn Cook, of Shelley (Goshen), Idaho. He often said that he went to the “land of Goshen” to find his wife. They were married and sealed for eternity on August 22, 1957, in the Idaho Falls Temple.
They moved to Provo, UT, where he attended BYU-Provo, majoring in Accounting. During his senior year at BYU he served an internship in Los Angeles, CA, with Haskins & Sells, a national CPA firm. Alva graduated from BYU with a major in Accounting in 1959. They then moved to Salt Lake City, UT, where he earned his degree of Juris Prudence of Law from the University of Utah College of Law in 1962. During his senior year of law school, Alva served as a clerk to one of the Utah State Supreme Court Judges.
Alva opened his private law practice office in Shelley, ID, in 1962 and continued practicing law there for 55 years until he retired in 2017. Some of his accomplishments while practicing law were creating several large corporations in Southeastern Idaho, spearheading the consolidation of the Bingham County telephone exchanges and organizing the Shelley-Firth Fire Protection District.
He continued his activity in the LDS church and had a strong testimony of its divinity. He has served in numerous positions and has always considered home teaching (ministering) as one of his most important callings. He loved the scriptures and spent countless hours studying, memorizing and using them as a guide in his life.
Alva was blessed with a tremendous amount of energy. He thoroughly enjoyed working both in the law office and on his private enterprises. He was a cancer survivor who was blessed to not only survive the cancer but to have a complete return to his high energy. He played church basketball at 6am, three mornings a week, until age 86.
Alva felt great responsibility for his eight children. He stressed religious training, high academic achievements and hard work as he and Evelyn raised their family. He had a tremendous amount of love for each and every person who married into his family. He was blessed with a very positive disposition which made his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren look forward to being with him.
He is survived by his loving wife, Evelyn, his eight children and their spouses: LeGrande (Marlene) Harris, Liz Andrus, Jared (Sonya) Harris, Brittany (Jeff) Jones, Wanda (Andy) Kirby, Darrell Jay (Alyssa) Harris, Anna (Aaron) Blonquist and Emily (Dan) Hodson, 37 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren.
Also surviving are his sister, Alora Sheridan, sisters-in-law Illa Mae Richardson and Pat Harris, and several much-loved nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Lee and Mila Harris, his precious grandson Luke Jayden Hodson, his siblings and their spouses: Bud & Wanda Harris, Tom (Alora) Sheridan, Anita Ross, Lowell (Pat) Harris, Duane Harris, and Bill & Milalee Yearsley; his parents-in-law Frank & Anna Haroldsen Cook, and his siblings-in-law Glenn & Emma Cook, Darrell & Afton Cook, Grant & Elaine Hanny, L. Jay & Anita Cook, and Newell K. (Illa Mae) Richardson.
Services will be held at 11am on Monday, February 28, at the Shelley South Stake Center. The family will visit with friends and relatives from 6:00-7:30pm on Sunday, February 27 at Nalder Funeral Home in Shelley and Monday from 9:30-10:45am at the Stake Center prior to the service. Interment will be at the Goshen Cemetery.
Those who would like to participate in the funeral service remotely are invited to view the service on a live broadcast at https://zoom.us/j/99584424579
In lieu of flowers, for those who wish to contribute, please donate to the Perpetual Education Fund of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints.