Wade Harris, 1936-2009

Wade Harris, 73 of Apple Valley, died surrounded by his loving family on Aug. 29. He had been hospitalized after due to complications following heart surgery. Born in Oklahoma in 1936, Wade Harris transformed his life by meeting and marrying Nancy Andrews, then moving to her family’s home state of Minnesota in 1962. He supported his family by working as a car salesman through the 1960s. In 1970 Wade and Nancy founded Associated Leasing. In 1973 Wade acquired the first of four car dealerships when he bought Southside Dodge.

The death of Wade and Nancy’s son, Tony, in 1978 compelled Wade to make an impact in the disability community. “I know if Tony had survived, he would have been in a wheelchair for the rest of his life,” was a driving tenet for the Harris family. Wade Harris went on to found Rollx Vans which modifies vehicles to be used by those in a wheelchair. In 2004, he created the charity Wounded Warriors which has provided free accessible vans for more than 70 injured veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Wade Harris was preceded in death by his sons Tony Harris and Jeff Phillips and siblings Doug, Kathy and Doyle. Survived by his loving wife Nancy, daughter Lori (Herb Ward), son Michael (Corinna Harris), and beloved grandchildren Charlie, Tony, Jazz, and Josie. A celebration of his life is 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 11, at the St Paul Town and Country Club, 300 Mississippi Blvd N., St Paul. Memorials preferred to the Wade Harris Scholarship Fund.