Cover photo for Harris Grabow's Obituary
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1921 Harris 2013

Harris Grabow

October 17, 1921 — February 7, 2013

GRABOW, HARRIS R. WATERTOWN Harris R. Grabow, age 91, died on Wednesday, February 7, 2013 in his Watertown home. He was born in Watertown, WI on October 17, 1921, the son of the late Anna (Pottenberg) and Theodore Grabow. Harris graduated from Watertown High School in 1939, where he was a member of the basketball team that won the state Class B Championship. Harris attended the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse and received his Bachelor's degree in Science with minors in mathematics and physical education in 1943. At UW La-Crosse, he was captain of the basketball team and quarterback of the All-Conference undefeated football team in 1942. Harris later received a joint Master's Degree in physical education and education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1952. Harris married his high school sweetheart, Helen Bernice King, on March 25, 1944, at St Paul's Episcopal Church in Watertown, where they remained lifelong members. In 1943, Harris entered the U.S. Army - Air Force, stationed in Biloxi, Mississippi, where he coached baseball and boxing, and he was the physical training instructor. In 1944, he was transferred to Truax Field, in Madison, WI, where he worked in the Truax Hospital convalescence center and played guard on the Truax Field Basketball Team. The name Harris Grabow is synonymous with athletics and teaching in Watertown, where he taught and coached for nearly four decades. Returning to his native Watertown in 1946, Harris taught physical science, general science, physical education, and health at Watertown High School. In the same year, he also became Watertown High School's Head Basketball Coach and Assistant Football Coach. In 1948, Harris initiated and coached the first baseball program at the high school, a team that went to the WIAA State Tournament in 1950. He led the basketball team to the WIAA State Tournament in 1960. In 1979, Harris was inducted into the Watertown High School Basketball Coaches' Hall of Fame, where recipients are honored for their outstanding service by the Wisconsin Coaches Association at the University of Wisconsin - Madison Field House. In 1948, Harris, his brother Louis, and their father, Ted, went into a mink business until 1962. They knew and were known by mink ranchers all over the country. They sold their pelts to the New York Auction Company. In 1966, Harris gave up coaching to become the full-time Athletic Director of Watertown High School, for which he later received the "Distinguished Service Award" from the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association. In 1981, his outstanding work in athletic administration was recognized with his selection as Wisconsin's Athletic Director of the Year. In 1986, Harris was inducted into the UW-LaCrosse Wall of Fame for football, basketball, and track & field. Harris enjoyed all sports, but had a special fondness for golf, enjoying both the sport and the social aspect. Harris was happiest when surrounded by people-especially his family and friends. In fact, after retirement in 1983, he set a goal of talking to 24 people a day, the size of his typical high school classroom. A devoted life-long learner, Harris imparted the value of education to everyone. He was survived by one daughter, Susan (Vince) Morrone of Watertown; one son, Steve (Peggy) Grabow of Wauwatosa; four granddaughters, Christa (Chris) Miller of Eagan, MN, Laura (Jason) Kalies of Apple Valley, MN, Molly (Jeff) Diamond of Carrboro, NC, and Maggie (Ian) Koszewski of Madison, WI; two great-granddaughters Sabrina Miller and Sophie Diamond; one brother-in-law Dave (Dixie) King, and one sister-in-law Joyce King; as well as many other relatives and close friends. Harris was preceded in death by his beloved and extraordinary wife, Helen; one brother, Louis Grabow and his wife Anita; brother-in-law Jack King; and brother-in-law William "Bill" King and his wife Gretchen. Gratitude is given to all who touched Harris's life with love, joy, care, and memorable moments. Harris will be forever remembered as an incredible husband, father, grandfather, teacher, coach, and friend. If desired, memorials may be made to St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Watertown or Watertown High School Athletic Booster Club. Memorial services will be held at 4:00 pm Monday, February 11th, 2013 at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Watertown with the Rev. Oscar Rozo officiating; assisted by Rev. Dr. Timothy R. Perkins. Visitation will be held at the church on Monday from 2:00 pm until the time of service.
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