Cover photo for Dorene May Harris's Obituary
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Dorene May Harris

May 3, 1936 — September 22, 2023

Fair Oaks, California

Dorene May Harris

Dorene was born Dorene May Chitwood on the 3rd of May 1936 in Los Angeles, California, to Delores and Glen Chitwood.

She had an older sister Betty.  The family lived in Venice California, just blocks from Venice Beach.

In 6th grade, at age 12, she met Patricia (Patti) Myler, who, once married, would become Patti Stevens. Patti shared Dorene’s passion for the ocean. They became instant friends and went on to form an impermeable bond of friendship that would last the rest of her life, seventy five years.

Shortly after graduating from Venice High School in 1954, Dorene met a merchant marine named Harold Bandy and the two were married on Valentine’s Day, 1956. Dorene and Bandy welcomed the birth of their first child, Lin Allen Bandy on November 26, 1956, and their second and final child, Tina Eilene Bandy, born June 20, 1958. 

The family resided in Manhattan Beach until 1964, then relocated to Carson, California.

Bandy’s work as a merchant marine kept him out at sea 9 months out of every year, which put a strain on their marriage. Dorene and Bandy separated in 1970 and divorced shortly after. 

1971 was a tough year for Dorene. Both of her parents suffered heart attacks and died 3 months apart from one another.

Betty, Dorene’s sister, was a single parent to one child, Tony. Betty was a computer programmer who wrote code for main frame computers long before personal computers were developed.  Her career was demanding and required long hours and continual training through night classes, leaving Tony to be watched over by Dorene or her parents. From an early age, and even more so after Betty and Dorene’s parents passed, Dorene became a quasi-surrogate mother to Tony, and he was and is more of a brother rather than a cousin to Lin and Tina. 

After her divorce, Dorene took a full time position at Hitco in Gardena, California. There she met and fell in love with an engineer named Jack Harris. The two were married at Patti Steven’s home in Santa Maria, California, on October 14, 1972.

Jack had 2 children from his previous marriage. Coincidentally Jack’s children were the same age as Dorene’s. Initially all 4 children did not reside with Dorene and Jack. In fact Tina was the only child residing with Dorene and Jack when they relocated to Atascadero California, in 1972. A few months after the move to Atascadero, both Jon (Vern) and Lin moved in. 

Dorene trained for and became a school bus driver and Jack worked at a Specialty Hardware store doing installations and home repairs.

According to Dorene she had 5 children, three sons, Lin, Tony, and Jon and two daughters, Tina and Melinda. She admired and was devoted to each of them and loved them all equally. 

Once the kids were out of the house, Dorene and Jack relocated to Citrus Heights in the Sacramento area in 1976. She drove school buses for a few short months, then worked as an office assistant for BelAir Supermarkets. It wasn’t long before she was promoted to office manager for BelAir’s Cameron Park Store. Dorene and Jack relocated to Folsom, California, in 1990. Dorene retired from BelAir in 2003 after 27 years with the Supermarket chain. At which time they moved back to Citrus Heights into a more practical single level dwelling.

Dorene’s compassion and positive nature along with her infectious laugh drew people in. But it went deeper than that. Dorene had an inner radar that knew when someone she loved was struggling. If someone was hurting physically or emotionally or just having a bad day, it wouldn’t be long before their phone was ringing with Dorene on the other end saying, “You’ve been heavy on my mind, what’s going on?” 

Dorene chose to never look for the flaws in anyone. Instead, she would insistently say “Bless their heart, they’re doing the best they can.”

Dorene was a devout Christian.  She accepted Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. The last word she spoke on the day she passed away was "Jesus". 

She was an angel among us and is dearly missed.

Dorene was preceded in death by her parents Glen and Delores Chitwood, her sister Betty Phillips, her stepdaughter Melinda Harris, and her beloved husband Jack Harris.

She is survived by her sons Lin Bandy, Tony Phillips, and Jon (Vern) Harris and his wife Roxanne and her daughter Tina Bandy, her grandchildren, Shannon, Jason and his wife Michaela, Matthew and his wife Annie, Michael, and Blake, and by her great grandchildren, Timothy, Chase and Mailey, her life- long friend Patti Stevens and her many other dear friends.

To order memorial trees in memory of Dorene May Harris, please visit our tree store.

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