John was born Jan. 8, 1940, in Dallas, Texas, to Ernest and Georgia (Vaughn) Harrell.
He grew up in a small town in Texas until he and his brother Roy came to Oregon to work for their uncle when John was 15.
John eventually moved to Brookings. He and his brother found work digging ditches in the lily fields and John went on to find work in the construction business. John worked as a finish carpenter for many years doing work on local projects including Elks Lodge 1934 and the Brookings-Harbor High School gym. He also taught the apprenticeship program for the local carpenters union. John was active in the local fire department, and he also operated Harrell’s Septic Tank Service for a number of years.
On Nov. 6, 1971, in Brookings, John married Carol Jackson, whom he met at Curry Good Samaritan Center where he was recuperating from back surgery.
Later, in 1974, John went to work for Curry County as a building inspector.
He retired in 1988 as the Curry County building official for the Public Works Department following an injury he received in a plane crash.
John was committed to county law enforcement. He was active with the Curry County Sheriff’s Office for 50 years as a reserve officer and multiple terms as captain of the Sheriff’s Posse. John was also a life member of the NRA.
Whether with the sheriff’s office, working as a carpenter, working on the ranch he and Carol owned and operated, or foster parenting, John was tireless in his efforts. Even though, through the years, he suffered pain from his back injury, he did not quit – working right through until his health wouldn’t allow it in August of last year. He will be missed by all who knew him.
His passions included his family and the foster children he and Carol helped, cattle ranching, bee keeping, trees and gardening, and collecting antiques.
Survivors include his wife Carol of Brookings; daughters Dr. Laura Leigh Riley of Virginia, Patricia Lynne Jensen of Arkansas, Lisa Harrell-Brock of Brookings; son John Tracy Harrell Jr. of Brookings; brother Roy Harrell of Missouri; sisters Emma Anderson of Texas, Ellen Wheeler of Texas, and Anita Harrell of Florida. Also surviving are 11 grandchildren and one great-grandson.
John was preceded in death by his older brother James.
A memorial service will be at 4 p.m. today (Jan. 18) at Grace Bible Church, 302 North Hazel St., in Brookings, where he and Carol were members for many years.
Memorial contributions may be made to Coastal Home Health and Hospice, P.O. Box 493, Gold Beach, OR 97444.
Condolences may be expressed online at www.redwoodmemorial.net
Submitted by Redwood Memorial Chapel.