December 6, 1925 - October 10, 2017
Milred I. Harris SpacerMildred Irene McLawhon was born in rural Greene County, N.C., the first of ten children of Mark Howard McLawhon, a farmer, and Augusta Bolin "Gussie" (Dixon) McLawhon, a homemaker. They soon moved to a new farm in Goldsboro, N.C. which became the family's "hometown" and source of many fond "farmgirl" memories. With the "Great Depression," "Daddy" took extra work as a milk delivery man, with Millie often riding along. Millie grew up to be beautiful, popular and adventurous, and with the coming of World War II she left school early and ventured out into the world as a single working woman, becoming one of the first Civil Service workers at the new, not-yet finished Pentagon, including a stint in the Military Intelligence Division of the War Department under Maj. Gen. Clayton Bissell.

After the war, Millie spent time in D.C. and Norfolk, VA., and then returned to Goldsboro and worked for the Strietmann Biscuit Co., bakers of Zesta crackers, while being a "second mom" to her youngest brothers. In 1953 she met a young Marine Corps aviator and officer candidate, SSgt John Edward Harris of Addison, II. Ever the non-conformist, Millie married her "Yankee" flyer in October of 1954 and over the next 13 years they reared three children- Ramona Gail, John Edward Jr. ("Johnny"), and Cheryl Augusta. John received his commission, switched to artillery, and the family lived the nomadic Marine Corps life of 2-year duty stations in North Carolina, Virginia, Oklahoma, (where John and Millie learned to square dance), California, and Hawaii, alongside John's two tours of duty in Vietnam.

In 1967, Millie, Johnny and Cheryl settled in Oceanside, CA., and in 1973 Millie bought the house on Kurtz St. where she lived the rest of her life. Having earned her GED, she returned to the Civil Service as a clerk-typist at Camp Pendleton for the head of the Base Maintenance Department. She was a very hard worker, supremely competent and effective at her job, and heavily-relied-upon and admired by her supervisors and coworkers. She retired in 1993.

Millie made numerous cross-country car trips to visit her family in Goldsboro (she flew once and swore she'd never do so again!), including several solo drives, the last at the age of 86! For years, Millie walked the 2 ½ miles to meet her best "girlfriends" every Tuesday morning at Hennesy's Tavern in Carlsbad for brunch and "refreshments" (she walked everywhere, was widely recognized in "South O" for her walks and hats, and was very fit until her last brief illness). In Sept. 2013 she nearly died in an accident on one of her walks, but made a remarkable recovery and returned to her active life, including her last of many Coronado Bay Bridge Walks for Navy charities in May of 2017 at the age of 91.

Her family, friends, and neighbors loved Millie for her charm, graciousness, kindness and generosity, and looked forward to seeing her brilliant smile light up her lovely face. Her children are forever grateful to have had a brave, resourceful, determined mother who truly and passionately loved them, and continually sacrificed her own interests for their welfare.

Mildred Irene Harris died peacefully at home early Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017 of liver cancer, surrounded by her three children, Ramona, Johnny, and Cheryl, and her granddaughter "Ruthie". She was preceded in death by her parents, Mark and Gussie McLawhon; brothers Mark Dixon McLawhon, Charles McLawhon, Joseph Edwin McLawhon, and Jimmy Gerald McLawhon; sisters Betty Pennington, Mary Jean Underwood, and Ellen Rose Benton; and ex-husband John Edward Harris. She is survived by her brothers Richard B. McLawhon (Barbara) of Mt. Olive N.C., and Billy Ray McLawhon (Kaye) of Pikeville, N.C.; a brother-in-law, F.W. "Bill" Benton of Troy, Il.; a sister-in-law, Dorothy "Dot" McLawhon of Monroe, N.C.; daughters Ramona Gail LaGassey (Gary) of Burleson, Tx., and Cheryl Augusta Swem (Daniel) of Vista, CA.; son John Edward Harris, Jr. of Oceanside, CA.; grandsons Steven R. Curry, Michael Curry, and Jeremy A. Swem, and granddaughter Natalie Ruth "Ruthie" Swem; two great-grandchildren; many cousins, nephews and nieces. There will be a brief service at her final resting place, the Rose Garden at Eternal Hills Memorial Park in Oceanside, on Friday Oct. 27 2017 at 2:00 pm.

Published online by Dignity Memorial.

Click here to view or add to the online Guest Book. This Guest Book has been kept online by Eternal Hills Cemetery & Mortuary.

Our records indicate that Mildred Harris joined NARFE on October 12, 1999. Her membership was upgraded to Dues Withholding on November 1, 2013. She lived in Oceanside for many years.