Sheryl Lezada Harris, MD

Apr 26, 1956 – Dec 27, 2014

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Obituary

Sheryl Harris was born on April 26, 1956 to Cecil and Lezada Harris.  Sheryl was an only child as was her mother and grandmother before her.  Her parents were school teachers who loved to teach Sheryl and Sheryl always thirsted to learn.  At 3 or 4 she asked her mother to teach her to play the organ.  Her mother was an outstanding organist and Sheryl wanted to learn—and she did while her mother did the footwork on the petals.

Sheryl grew up in Port Arthur, Texas in a typical neighborhood called Vista Village.  It was the time of the baby boomers so Sheryl had many other children to hang out with.  Her best friend, Kim Gallien would come knocking at the door every day asking for Sheryl to come out and play.  There were so many children in Vista Village that they had a baseball team!  Sheryl and a group of other kids formed a musical band and played endless hours in a neighborhood garage.

As the late 60’s came civil rights for African Americans were so important to Sheryl.  You see she remembers having to wait in the “colored” waiting room of doctors’ offices and could only drink from “colored” water fountains. 

Sheryl went to Bishop Byrne High School and loved almost every minute of it.  She made many friends there and kept in touch over the years.  At the high school graduation she and her friend Pam performed “Memories.”

Sheryl went to the University of Texas in Austin and graduated with a degree in Physics.  She likely was the first or second African American to graduate from UT with a degree in Physics.   You see there were only 2000 African Americans admitted to UT in 1974 with an undergraduate student body of 40,000.  She chose Physics although she wanted to become a doctor even in 1974.  When she learned at 18 how much was involved in becoming a doc she opted for majoring in Physics!

After graduating from UT Sheryl thought she was done with school so she moved to Washington, DC to find work in the government.  Not knowing the process, she permed her hair, put on a dress and went door to door at various federal buildings.  Finally someone took pity on her and explained the process to work in the federal government.  Eventually Sheryl got a job with NAVSEA and then the US Geological Society.  But school was calling her heart again and went and got a Masters Degree in Biology from American University.  Sheryl spent several years on boats going up and down the Potomac River into the Chesapeake Bay testing water quality with her colleagues. 

As Sheryl was growing as a person to be true to herself and applied for work at a newly formed political action committee (PAC), the Human Rights Campaign Fund.  She helped with bookkeeping and IT.  At first HRCF was just a 3-4 staff office on Capitol Hill.  Sheryl was at the foundation of building the PAC, which today is a critical PAC for assuring the rights of the LGBT community. 

At age 35 Sheryl could no longer stop the drive to become a doctor.  She studied for the MedCap, brushed up on her Chemistry and was admitted to various med schools.  She chose Howard University and again loved every minute of her medical school education.  After graduating from medical school she heard of Group Health Cooperative and loved the concept so she came to Seattle to do a residency with Group Health.  Following her residency, Sheryl practiced at Group Health as a Family doc at the Burien and Northshore clinics.  She also did Urgent Care at Everett and locums around the Group Health Network.

Of course being a doc was not enough for Sheryl.   She decided to go back to school and so she did, obtaining a Master’s Degree in Public Health at Johns Hopkins.  She loved every minute of it.

The last several years of Sheryl’s life were quite challenging due to her chronic illness of lung disease.  This, however, did not stop her from continuing to grow and delight in the ordinary and extraordinary in life.  A week before Sheryl died she was looking into online courses in Analytics.

Sheryl was a remarkable, generous, brilliant, loving human being that will be missed by so many.  She is survived by her family--dearest friend of 40 years, Joan Eads, and Joan’s sister, Linda Eads, Sheryl’s goddaughter Madelyn Eads-Dorsey, her cat PJ and her dog Bailey.   Sheryl had many dear and beloved friends: Marge and James Gamble, Debi Mediano, Calista Martinez, Rodney Price, Mandy & Geoff Cooper, Ann Gelgisser, Terry Hill, Arlene Dorrough, David O’Connor, Nancy Scott, Clarissa McDearmon, as well as great friends at Group Health and L’Arche Noah Sealth.  

There will be a celebration of life for Sheryl and memorial service on February 7th at 2:00 pm at Lake Forest Park Civic Club: 17301 Beach Drive  (crossroads of Ballinger Way and Bothell/Everett Highway), Lake Forest Park, 98155, 206-362-8818.  At the celebration we will share stories and delight in the remarkable life of Sheryl Harris.

If you want to make a gift in honor of Sheryl instead of flowers, consider the following organizations:

 

L’Arche Noah Sealth in Seattle—Sheryl served as a board member with this organization and enjoyed many hours with core members and assistants.

Eastside Timebank in Kirkland—Sheryl was a member and believed in resource sharing and community building in this way.

Howard University in Washington, DC

Human Rights Campaign in Washington, DC

Group Health Hospice Care, Seattle, WA

Meals on Wheels, Snohomish or King County

Guestbook

Regina Jones
San Diego, CA
Feb 18, 2015

Praying that God will give you peace in your quiet moments and comfort to replace your grief. I am so very sorry for your loss. Sheryl was a remarkable person, dearly loved and will be greatly missed. Please draw comfort in the fond memories you made and dreams you shared with Sheryl. May you find consolation in the Bible's promise that one day you will see your beloved Sheryl again, for you are guaranteed, "Your Dead Will Live. Awake and shout joyfully, You Residents In The Dust!..." (Isaiah 26:19) With my deepest sympathies.

Ky Haverkamp
Seattle, WA
Feb 4, 2015

As a PA, I will always remember her passion for teaching and her willingness to share her enthusiasm for patient care with many PA students. She was a role model for all health care providers.

Sarah Levy
Seattle , WA
Jan 21, 2015

I fondly remember working with Sheryl at the Burien clinic, where I had hired her. Sheryl had and continued to think carefully about what health care should be and she tried to live that vision every day.

Mimi Krsak
Seattle, WA
Jan 21, 2015

Joan and family, Of all the wonderful things in the obituary guestbook comments, the one that rings truest is "The Sheryl Experience" ! We are all so blessed to have known her. Joan, you have been the best of friends to walk with her every step of this journey. May you find comfort in all those wonderful memories. Love, m

Cristina Zappoli Ryser
Seattle, WA
Jan 21, 2015

I remember Sheryl fondly. Her energetic, empathetic and witty personality always brightened the day!

She was a fabulous colleague.

Joan Loeken
Seattle, WA
Jan 15, 2015

I knew Sheryl primarily as fellow Board members at L'Arche Noah Sealth, a community for intellectually disabled adults. Earlier when Sheryl first came to Seattle, she lived in one of the Community's homes and was such a loving, fun presence. It was Sheryl's humble and loving acceptance of everyone that always shone through. She was a perfect model of how to live in this world. May she be enjoying the fruits of that in her next world.

Linda Eads
Dallas, TX
Jan 9, 2015

I knew Sheryl for 40 years since the time she met my sister in their dormitory at UT in Austin. I am certain that the central and defining relationships in Sheryl's life were with my sister, Joan, and with my daughter, Madelyn. Joan was always at the center of Sheryl's heart and thoughts, as Sheryl was at the center of Joan's heart and thoughts. They were truly soul mates. During Joan's last bout with breast cancer, Sheryl tried her best to help, even though she was also having difficulties with her COPD.

And for the last two years, Joan was at Sheryl's side every step of Sheryl's journey-- the many trips to the hospital, the many calls to help Sheryl overcome the feelings of panic that comes with COPD, organizing the sale of Sheryl's home so that she could move into assisted living, and lastly facing with Sheryl hospice care. Both Joan and Sheryl were brave and strong throughout this journey and their love for each other grew and grew.

Also during the last month of Sheryl's life, her god daughter and my daughter, Madelyn, stayed with her, comforted Sheryl and showered her with love. It was such a great gift to give her god mother and one that I know Sheryl cherished.

Sheryl passed away just two days after Christmas, but on Christmas we all Skyped. Joan was with Sheryl in Seattle and Madelyn was with me in Dallas. We had so much fun that morning.

I will always miss Sheryl-- her laugh, her humor, her brilliance, her search for knowledge and truth. My heart breaks for my loss but even more for my daughter's and my sister's loss. I am comforted that Sheryl is not suffering anymore, and that in her last months she was showered in love and laughter. I know that she will always "have our backs" and will help lead us through our journeys.

Sheryl, may you be surrounded by electronic gadgets and books, good music and guitars, dogs and cats, red beans and rice, okra and Linda's meatloaf. May you be studying even more subjects and watching great movies.

Marilyn and Ron Roberts
Big Arm, Mt
Jan 7, 2015

Although Sheryl was not my primary physician at Group Health, I had the pleasure of being treated several times by her, and found her to be a caring and compassionate physician. Later, when my husband and I decided to move back to my home state of Montana, Sheryl bought our house in Bothell, and she was so excited to move in. It was a pleasure to turn over our home of 25 years - our labor of love - to her.

She had told me she was ill, but I had no idea how serious it was. We are so sorry to hear of her passing.

Bud & Jean Ray
Fife, WA
Jan 6, 2015

Jean and I will always remember Sheryl for her kindness.

She was a genuine and loving soul with the capacity to not only understand the physics of being an human but also the human spirit.

Jean and I will never forget this Dr. this lady, this real human spirit.

Our heart goes out to her family and may her soul rest in peace. She will be missed by all of us that loved her.

God bless you Sheryl and may you always walk among us.

Amen, Amen, Amen

Greta Climer
Kirkland, WA
Jan 6, 2015

I only met Sheryl once but she holds a place in my heart from that meeting and from the loving embrace she clearly held her people in. Reading about her is a delight. Her varied interests, wide impact and dedicated pursuit of knowledge and impact are no surprise. Sheryl most certainly lived a full life and clearly "loved every minute of it." With love to you Joan and all her family and friends. -Greta

Vicki Lotz
Kirkland, Wa
Jan 6, 2015

The world as Sheryl new it will miss her. Hugs to her extended family, and close friends. Life is a journey, and Sheryl seemed to enjoy the ride. Vicki

Linda Benson
Redmond, WA
Jan 6, 2015

What a remarkable woman! I did not know Sheryl, but heard amazing stories about her intelligence, kindness, passion and love of life from her dear friend, Joan.

My condolences to all those she loved. What a gift she must have been.

A friend once removed

Linda Benson

Mary Flake
Lake Forest Park, WA
Jan 5, 2015

I met Sheryl at Group Health Northshore, I was lucky enough to have her as my physician. During my very first visit to Group Health, the receptionist was happy to tell me that I was going to like my new doctor; she was almost right... I loved my new doctor. Sheryl was kind, caring, intelligent and fun. She was far more than my doctor, she was my friend.

We have lost one of the good ones, may she rest in peace.

sheri orahood
Bothell , Wa
Jan 5, 2015

Sheryl

Had the pleasure of working next to you at North shore

We got in some great laughs funny moments and just crazy days - But you always left with a smile on your face

I"m glad Marty and I got to go to dinner with you and our visit just recently we had some good laughs and stories

A candle will always be glowing for you

Hugs Sheri Orahood

Martha Clark Scala
Palo Alto, CA
Jan 5, 2015

I met Sheryl in Washington, DC way-back-when and what a delightful person she was. She made me laugh, sing, think, ponder, and celebrate on a regular basis. A beautiful light in a sometimes dark world. It is comforting to know she can now breathe easy, and I would love to know what she is studying in her life beyond! Love to Joan and all of the others blessed by Sheryl's life.

Shaun A. Ross
Poplar Bluff, MO
Jan 5, 2015

Sheryl was my classmate at Howard University College of Medicine. I always remembered she had this warm smile. Seeing her smile gave me inspiration every day. She will be missed.

Kris Williams
Seattle, WA
Jan 5, 2015

I met Sheryl at Group Health - she was a resident and I was a physician recruiter for GHP. I immediately knew she had the heart and soul of the kind of doctor I wanted for GH, for my family, for everyone's family. Brilliant, compassionate. Her commitment to people, to learning, to laughter and joy - how could one not be drawn to Sheryl.

My condolences to Sheryl's family and friends. We are all so blessed to have had her touch in our lives.

Debra Galassi
Bothell, Wa
Jan 5, 2015

I first met Sheryl as my doctor. We hit it off like we'd know each other for ever! We found we had many things in common. I was elated to have a doctor who I could be so personable with and sad when she needed to retire though we kept in contact.

I know she will be greatly missed by many and serves as constant reminder of what's important in life.

Bobby Rodrigo
Acworth, GA
Jan 5, 2015

My condolences to her family and friends.

Denise Baillie
Bremerton, wa
Jan 4, 2015

I feel honored and humbled to have had the Sheryl experience. She definitely had been blessed by God .

Mandy and Geoff Cooper
Washington , DC
Jan 4, 2015

Our heart is broken that we could not have spent more time with you. We will never forget laughing till our bellies hurt and the kindness and warmth we felt with you. You were full of love, acceptance and lots and lots of fun. You will be in our hearts always.

Brenda Banks
seattle, wa
Jan 4, 2015

Remarkable, Generous,Brilliant,Loving and So much to fun know.

Sheryl was my girl @GHC central during her residency. I will always remember her with genuine fondness.

RIP Babygirl.

Brenda Banks

Laura A
Everett, WA
Jan 4, 2015

So very sorry to hear of Dr. Harris' passing. The only opportunity was at Urgent Care a few times, but she made such a wonderful impression on us. She related so very well to my sons (a gamer and a musician) and put all at ease when we were dealing with illness. Not surprised to read of her accomplishments here...she truly made a difference in this word. Much love to her loved ones for comfort. Her absence on this earth is a tremendous loss...

Andrea Sawyer
Bothell, WA
Jan 4, 2015

My mom was blessed to have Dr. Harris as her primary doctor at Northsore GH. Dr. Harris was so genuine, intuitive,, positive and incredibly compassionate. Even in late stages of Alzheimer's. my sweet mother recognized those unique qualities in Dr. Harris. We both adored Dr. Harris and so missed her when she left Group Health.

One day, which turned out to be the last time I saw Dr. Harris, I had to pop into the pharmacy for one of my mom's prescriptions. On my way over, I zipped by a flower stand to pick up a treat for Dr. Harris. When I inquired at the clinic I was informed she had just left for the day. As I was in line at the pharmacy I observed, Dr. Harris chatting with pts in the lobby n her way out which was so her! She came over to say hello to me so I was able to give her the flowers. It was fun to see the joy on her face at receiving a simple unexpected gift.

People like Sheryl are selfless givers. Their joy comes from helping others. While that type of person does not ever require recognition, they sooooo appreciate a small token every so often.

Let us all remember Sheryl's generous heart, amazing personality and keen ability to care for others.

With thankful hearts,

The family of Lee Dally

Sue Hudacek
Tacoma, WA
Jan 4, 2015

Sheryl touched more lives that she ever realized. One of those lives was Fr. Jimmy Boyle. I will forever remember Jimmy and Sheryl enjoying jokes and laughing whole heartedly at things that only they knew and understood. I know that Fr. Jimmy was there taking Sheryl's hand as she left this world to her true home. My prayers are for those who miss her in what was her temporary home. May Sheryl know how deeply she was loved,

Arlene Dorrough
SeaTac , WA
Jan 4, 2015

My dear friend, mentor and "sister". I learned so much from her about medicine, life and relationships.

Hers was truly a life that touched many others in ripples that stretched far and wide.

Rest easy, my friend, rest easy.

All my love and support to Joan and family.

- Arlene

Suzanne Beyer
Bothell, WA
Jan 4, 2015

Loved having Dr. Harris as my doc! I remember coming into her office one time complaining about some ache and pain and she said, "What's the matter with you...we're all getting older!"

The other moment I recall was when I could barely walk to the mailbox at 58 years old and 160 lbs. Her advice? "Knock off 5 pounds!" I followed this advice, knocking off 20 lbs and was able to walk around the block 50 times if I wanted to. Chery's advice was Real, down-to-earth.

She was on my hospital floor this past November. She recognized me right away -- both in our hospital gowns. We visited in her room - the same upbeat, positive doctor she'd always been!

Rest in peace, Dr. Harris!

Beckie Daniels
Onalaska, WA
Jan 4, 2015

Sheryl was my favorite doc ever!! Never in a rush and always with that twinkle in her eye! She will be missed!

This obituary is provided by Bonney-Watson, providing caring and compassionate funeral, cremation and cemetery services since 1868. We have a professional staff, four funeral homes, two cremation facilities and one of the largest cemeteries south of Seattle, as well as a comprehensive grief support program.

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