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Harriet Jeanette Ferris

Harriet Jeanette Ferris, age 85, of Dassel, died Saturday, Nov. 10, 2007.

She was born Dec. 27, 1921, in Fairmont, Minn. At age 7, she and her two oldest brothers went to live with her grandparents on the farm. When she turned 16, Harriet lived with her father, Clifford Ness, her stepmother, Lucille, and two younger brothers.

She graduated from Central High School in Minneapolis, and furthered her education at Mankato State, where she earned a two-year teaching degree and later completed a bachelor of science degree in 1957.

While at Mankato State, Harriet met Tom Ferris, and they were married July 18, 1942, in San Angelo, Texas.

Harriet was a lifelong second grade teacher, forging deep bonds with many of her students. She retired from teaching in 1976 at the age of 55.

Tom and Harriet never had any living children, having experienced 10 miscarriages. It was the heartache of their lives, and this experience added to the interest and devotion Harriet gave to her students.

Harriet’s father-in-law, fondly referred to as “Papa Ferris,” was a Lebanese immigrant from the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon. When Papa died in 1967, Tom and Harriet visited his homeland. They spent the summer there and loved the experience so much that they came back and applied for sabbatical leave to live in Lebanon from June 1968 to August 1969.

Tony Saber, a village boy working in Beirut, translated English for Harriet during this time. He became “the son we never had.” Through their efforts, Tony came to America in June 1970 and attended their alma mater, Mankato State.

Harriet was a devoted grandmother to Tony’s children, David and Shaama Saber. In addition to her role as a daughter who tended to her parents’ needs in later life and enjoyed their company immensely, she was a loving sister and sister-in-law, an aunt who displayed great pride in their nieces and nephews, and a special friend to many.

An active retiree, Harriet golfed, wrote, did endless crafting, gave much time to her grandma role, and cared for her husband, Tom, as he grew older and became handicapped.

Upon Tom’s death in December 2003, Harriet sold their St. Paul home and moved to Cokato to be near Tony and family. Since June of 2006, Harriet’s health necessitated care at the Dassel Lakeside Home.

Mass of Christian Burial took place Tuesday, Nov. 13 at 2 p.m. at Holy Family Maronite Catholic Church with Fr. Rodrigue Constantin as the celebrant of the Mass. Music was provided by Art Nasseff and Jill Gubash. Interment was in Ft. Snelling National Cemetery.

Casket bearers were David Saber, Shady Chahoud, John Zibley, Barry Raggor, Bruce Eversman, and David Ferris.

Arrangements were by the Swanson Peterson Funeral Home in Cokato.