About Rick Harris
Hi, my name is Rick Harris. The photo was taken in June 2012 and that’s me flanked by my sons. Even though I am now a single father after 19 years of marriage to their mother, I am truly blessed by the grace of these two young men. It goes without saying, my number one job is being the best Dad I can be for them and set a great example for them to follow.
One of my current goals is to simplify my life and spend more quality time with my kids, parents, and friends. After a career in software development and as an IT executive, I am now coming back to my roots and have been given the opportunity by my parents to take over the management of my Granddad’s old ranch.
Since I believe a person’s true character is defined by his/her upbringing and the people he/she was surrounded by during their formative years, I am going to share with you what I think really makes me who I am today. Tap the text or arrow to expand further.
The very first job I can recall actually getting paid to do was “steering” a big hay truck around a pasture such that the arms of her automatic loader would straddle the small square bails of hay. I was only 9 years old at the time and my Granddad, Dick Harris, actually had to remove the seat from the truck since it was too high for me to touch the pedals while sitting on it. There was no need to learn how to shift the gears since she chugged along just fine in her lowest “Granny” gear. All I had to do was let the clutch out to make her go, push it back in to stop her, and of course pull that huge steering wheel ’round and ’round to send her in the right direction. I am pretty sure my Granddad paid me a whopping $1.25/hr. I remember thinking the guys on the back of the truck were making a whole lot more than me because they where getting paid per bail, instead of an hourly rate.
I continued to work for my Granddad on his ranch until my senior year in high school. It was a very tough decision to quit my favorite job in the world and to go work at a Chief Auto Parts store instead. For some reason I can’t really explain, I convinced myself I needed some other work experience, besides my Granddad’s ranch, in order to get accepted to a reputable college. In hindsight, I think Rice University really didn’t give a hoot.
Needless to say, I have many fond memories of my Granddad and the times we had together. He taught me what it really meant to work hard and the importance of working smart as well. It is difficult to quantify, but I truly believe I learned more valuable lessons in the 8 years I worked for my Granddad than I have ever learned from any source of education or work experience since then. Ironically, after going off to a fancy school to get an education in Computer Science and spending the majority of my career writing software for other people, it seems I temporarily failed to learn one of the most important lessons from this man. It is probably because he never really tried to teach me this lesson, even though it was right there in front of my eyes every single day I was with him.
He simply exuded what I now realize I should strive to be. He was the epitome of confidence, self-reliance, and independence; yet at the same time, one of the most caring, compassionate, and honest individuals I have ever met. He was always in a hurry to get to the next place he needed to be, because “time was money” and was always worried about “burning daylight”. However, he was never in too big of a hurry to stop and help someone in need. I will never forget an occasion when he had just barreled through an intersection as the light was turning red, scared the crap out of me and then told me that one of the reasons God made brakes was so others wouldn’t run into him. Almost immediately after that, he pulled over to help someone with a flat tire. His heart was bigger than you can imagine. Almost every Sunday morning he would come drag me out of my bed, even when I was not spending the night at his place, and take me with him on his rounds to visit all of his friends, and some of their parents, in the various nursing homes throughout Denton. This was practically more important than making it to church that same day. We usually started around 9 AM and it took a full 2 hours to visit all of them before church started at 11 AM. At the time, I had very mixed emotions about what appeared to almost be a self-serving ritual of sorts. I remember thinking how it kinda seemed cruel to only spend a few minutes with each one because they always seemed so disappointed when he left. I questioned his rationale for the visits and he simply said he wouldn’t want to be stuck in a nursing home and forgotten by friends and family. He couldn’t spend too much time with any of them; otherwise, he might not have enough time to visit all of them. Some of the old codgers would actually wheel themselves out to the front entrance of their facility and be waiting for him to arrive like clockwork. It was as if the weekly visit from Dick Harris was one of the few things they had to look forward to. To this day, I still can’t believe how many friends my Granddad had and his unwavering loyalty to them until they died.
As a child growing up in Denton, TX, just about every person I met knew who Dick Harris was and most of them also knew my other Granddad, Stacy Jennings, as well. In that case, they could not believe I was the product of both of their genetics. My Granddad Stacy was also a great influence during my formative years. He enjoyed life to its fullest, was a domino wizard, a human calculator, and a walking dictionary of jokes. To this day, I wish I could remember just half the jokes he told me. He was a professional truck driver most of his life and started driving trucks (and smoking cigars) when he was 12 years old. When I was 14, he taught me how to drive (and double clutch) a Mack truck while pulling a fully loaded tanker of gasoline. Later in life, he also drove a bus for the Denton State School grannies and I have fond memories from several of those bus rides. His character and work ethic equaled that of my other Granddad and therefore they had a great deal of mutual respect and admiration for each other. When he introduced me to his friends, he would always introduce me as Dick Harris’ Grandson. This would typically result in significant commotion over me being the Grandson of both of them. As my Granddad Dick’s eyesight started to fail later in his life, my Granddad Stacy stepped up and became his personal chauffeur. I loved playing pool with both of these guys and they loved it too!
As a child and still to this day, I have always felt very fortunate to have spent the amount of time I spent with all my grandparents, including my dear Grandmothers, Neely Jennings (Granny) and Cornelia Harris (Paw). I learned many things from both of these fine ladies. Not sure why, but I feel like I learned most of my manners from my Granny. I learned how to shoot a gun and hunt from my other grandmother, Paw. BTW, I am the one who is credited for nicknaming her “Paw” . When I was just learning to talk, I got her confused with my Great Granddad when one of my cousins was calling him “Pa” and I thought she was talking to my Grandmother instead. Everyone thought it was real cute for a while, until it stuck!
It may sound like I was raised by my grandparents instead of my own folks. To the contrary, I credit my folks for being my true disciplinarians and setting great examples for me to follow. I am very proud of them and their accomplishments. My Dad, Richard A. Harris, Jr., became the acting director of the NTSU computing center while he was working on his Master’s degree in math. He proved to be the best fit for the job and thus remained in charge of computing for more than 40 years and retired as the Associate VP for Computing & Chief Technology Officer at UNT. My Mom, Joneel Harris, received her Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Ph.D. from UNT all while raising me and my sister, Lisa Harris. I will never forget the many tests (including IQ) and experiments my Mom gave me and my sister while she was working on her Master’s in School Psychology. My Mom also worked as an administrator at UNT for over 30 years, starting out as an Assistant Registrar, then becoming the Registrar for many years, and ultimately retired as the Associate VP for Enrollment Management at UNT.
My folks are to be credited for giving me and my sister the confidence to set our goals high and to persevere in accomplishing them. As a result, I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up before I even started Kindergarten. After watching Neil Armstrong make his historic step on the moon, I immediately decided I wanted to be an Astronaut and stuck with that goal all the way through K-12, Rice University, and 3 years working for NASA, until I discovered my collapsed lungs and perforated ear drums excluded me from going into space.
Ironically, not long after my career at NASA was over, my little sister wound up with several of her biochemistry experiments going up on the Space Shuttle, for which she actually instructed the Astronauts on how to manage the experiments. Lisa earned her Bachelors’ degree from Baylor University and her Ph.D. from University of California at Irvine, where she was the very first person ever to successfully crystallize and solve the first two structures of fully intact antibodies. One of the antibodies was known to cure canine lymphoma; however, it was critical to understand its structure and how it actually worked before trying it on humans. Her results regarding the protein folding and their hinges were a big surprise to the biochemistry community. Her findings were published in Nature, 1992 and featured in a National Geographic episode on NOVA in which they actually said her discovery will require changing all the biochemistry books published in the last 20 years. After finishing her post-doc work at UC Irvine, she became a Senior Research Fellow and ran the Structural Biology lab at Austin Research Institute in Australia, which is credited for the development of a vaccine to prevent breast cancer. I am happy to say my sister now lives in Texas with her family and works for St. Jude Medical as a cross functional Project Manager responsible for the development of several different neural implant devices. As you can imagine, I am very proud of her not just because she is so smart, but because she applies her intelligence towards helping humanity.
My folks have always operated under the premise that a family that plays together, stays together. It has served them very well. I have many fond memories (and I am sure my sister does too) of the fun things we did together like riding motorcycles, water skiing, and snow skiing trips.
Basically, I was raised to tell the truth, always welcome new friends with open arms, be loyal to the friends I have, and help others in need. This is exactly what I intend to continue to do the rest of my life and I suspect it will continue to serve me well.
I have many happy customers that span Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and even Colorado. The first map below is a view of my total reach and the second one shows the concentration in the North Texas greater metro-plex. What is not depicted by these maps is how many repeat customers I have and the variety of products they have purchased.
It is always a great pleasure to continue a long-lasting relationship with my customers. I sincerely hope to be your local destination for everything I offer on this site. Thanks and I hope to add you and/or your future purchase to these maps as well.
Zoomed Out Map of All Customers
Zoomed In Map of Local Customers