Harry Robert Combs, son of Neil and Gladys (Dalrymple) Combs, was born September 10, 1942, in Siam, Iowa. He died June 10, 2019, at Brookdale Kearney Northridge in Kearney, Nebraska, where he had made his home the last 16 months.
When Harry was four years old, his parents bought “the home place” southeast of Gravity, Iowa, and moved their young family – Harry and his sister, Patricia – to their new home. Younger sister Lorelei would come along some years later. He had a wonderful childhood growing up a farm kid – many memories of building tree houses, riding bikes, playing in the orchard and swimming in the pond. He was baptized into the Baptist faith when he was of age and grew up attending church and camp-outs with his youth group.
Harry and Pat walked up the gravel road from their home to attend Lee No. 7 country school. Harry loved that school and had only fond memories of school days and his teacher, Mrs. Bertha Stafford. After Lee No. 7, he attended Gravity Public School through the eighth grade. Harry attended Bedford High School, graduating in 1961. While he participated in various high school activities and especially enjoyed baseball, he was a gear head through and through. He was a member of the Fender Benders car club and had endless stories of drag racing and other lead-footed activities.
After high school, Harry attended NWMSC, where he was affiliated with Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity. It was during this time that he met Judy Osburn of Skidmore, Missouri. They were married on January 20, 1963, at the Methodist Church in Skidmore. As newlyweds, they lived in Granby, Colorado, where they worked at various jobs for the beloved Edwards family. After a year, they returned to Missouri and lived in St. Joseph, Missouri, where Harry was an engineer for Wire Rope Corp. Their daughter, Holly, was born in 1964 and in 1965 they entered into a farming partnership with Harry’s father-in-law, James Osburn. They moved to his farm southeast of Fairfax that year. Their son, Jason, was born in 1970.
Harry completed his college degree while farming full-time and graduated from NWMSC in 1971 with a degree in Industrial Arts. Following graduation, he taught school for one year at Nishna Valley High School in Emerson, Iowa, while continuing to farm in Fairfax. After a year, the family returned to the farm at Fairfax.
Harry and Judy loved to travel and returned to Colorado every summer besides taking family vacations to see the rest of the country. Harry was truly a human GPS – once he had traveled a road, he remembered the number or name of the road and landmarks – truly decades later – he would recite where one needed to turn, what roads you would be intersecting with and what sites you would be seeing. Always spot on.
Family life was cut short for Harry and Judy, when in their thirties they both battled cancer with each taking a turn being devoted caregiver to the other while they were sick. After a long fight, Judy died July 23, 1981.
In May of 1982, Harry married Mary B. Lewis of Rock Port, Missouri. They were married 33 years before Mary’s death on May 22, 2015. They enjoyed volunteering for various community efforts, taking care of grandkids, antiquing, and woodworking, among many other interests. Harry especially loved old iron and was always on the hunt for a new piece to restore during his retirement. He loved old tractors and was instrumental in starting the Old Time Tractor Reunion at the Fairfax Fair. He was a lifelong learner – interested in what Jason was researching but sometimes researching topics on his own. He created scrapbooks of his family genealogy for his grandkids, making sure family history was passed down. He loved to read and after Mary died he disconnected the cable and read an entire set of Encyclopedia Brittanica.
In February of 2018, his health declined and after a hospitalization, he moved to Brookdale Kearney Northridge in Kearney to be closer to his son, Jason. He made a whole new host of friends there – who had never heard his life “stories” – and he enjoyed having a new audience to swap said stories with. Harry passed away at Northridge on Monday, June 10, 2019.
Besides his parents, his wife, Judy, and wife, Mary, Harry was preceded in death by his sister, Lorelei Rusco, brother-in-law, Keith O’Dell, and two nephews, Brad O’Dell and Benjamin Beemer. He is survived by his sister, Pat O’Dell, New Market, Iowa; his aunt, Jean Hartman, Clarinda, Iowa; daughter, Holly Barnes (Tracy) of Fairfax; son, Jason Combs (Gayle) of Kearney, Nebraska; stepson, Mike Lewis (Robin) and stepdaughter, Beth Graves (Jon) all of Fairfax. Grandchildren are Spencer and Lindsey Barnes, Jase Barnes, Goldie Barnes, Tate Combs, Oliver Combs, Dustin and Erica Barnes, Kelly Pruitt, Amber and James Zumbrunnen, Baylee and Tristan Ray, Grant Hopkins, Ryan Hopkins, Max Hopkins, Jaycee Graves, Jesse Graves, and Braden Graves. Great-grandchildren are Aislyn and Kolcyn Barnes, and Jackson Zumbrunnen. He is also survived by nephews, a niece, and a host of extended family and friends.
An open house visitation was held Saturday, June 15, at the Fairfax Methodist Church. Private inurnment will be at a later date. The family suggests memorials to the Fairfax Optimist Summer Baseball Program in care of Jay Smith, Treasurer.
Arrangements were under the direction of Schooler Funeral Home, Fairfax.