Barbara Harris was named January Veteran of the Month at the veterans home in Scarborough. Courtesy photo

The World War II Navy Veteran (1943-1946) built with her own hands a cabin in the woods of West Enfield, Maine, is a Hall of Fame women’s basketball player, taught at one of the country’s top women’s colleges and educated Maine campers about the environment, the universe and God.

Now, at age 96, Harris doesn’t think her accomplishments stand out; those who know her, would beg to differ, and that is why she was named Maine Veterans Homes – Scarborough’s Veteran of the Month for January. She resides at the veterans home.

While in primary school, Harris was a natural athlete and cultivated a passion for sports, specifically basketball, field hockey and lacrosse. From that point on, sports and physical activity would be a guiding influence in her life. Following her basic education, Barbara went to college at Bangor Maine School of Commerce (now Husson University) and acquired a bachelor’s degree in physical education. In 1991, she was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.

While in college, she designed, built and furnished a log cabin in 1942 that she named, “Wakullacoa.” She gathered the logs for the cabin herself and installed the windows and the roof — the most difficult parts of the process, she said.

“I didn’t know how to do any of that. The Lord told me how to do it,” she said.

When it was completed, the avid writer invited friends and family via a handmade invitation that read:

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The camp is done, the leaves are red

And soon the snow will fall.

It brings to mind the promise made

To have a joyous brawl.

With the woods for room and

Food to spare

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We’re ready to entertain

So come prepared to christen

The best pole camp in Maine.

The stunning log cabin would be a gathering point for many of her friends and family during her college years.

When Harris graduated from college in 1943, she joined the Navy where she worked as a secretary to a chief accountant. She completed three years of service and was honorably discharged in 1946. Subsequent to leaving, she had an opportunity to teach at one of the nation’s top private women’s colleges, Sweet Briar College, in Sweet Briar, Virginia. She taught physical education there for a few years until she met her first husband, Lyman Lamson, and moved back to Maine to be with him. They had four children together.

When Harris settled back in Maine, she combined her passions for teaching, love for the environment, writing and her faith. It was then she co-founded Camp Good News in Livermore Falls, which is still operational. In fact, the signs that still welcome visitors today were hand carved by Harris.

Harris looks back on her time with Camp Good News as some of the best memories of her life. It was here she created a character called “Eco” (short for Ecology) who assisted in her lessons about nature. Barbara keeps a magazine of her work about Eco, titled “Eco’s Poems and Others Relating to God’s Great Creation.”

Barbara Harris married Clinton Harris three years after her first husband passed away and together they built a second home in Auburn. She did all of the architectural drawings and designs for this home.

Harris is humble about all of her great accomplishments and her wonderful life. She enjoys reading, puzzles, adores all kinds of dogs and spending time with family.

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