Ken Harry was born in Cardiff in 1930, already a 4th generation Salvationist. As a child he attended Grangetown Corps but it was Cardiff Stuart Hall Corps that became his home. He became a keen bandsman and songster developing a lifelong passion for all kinds of Salvation Army music.
After learning his trade as a pattern-maker and completing his National Service in R.E.M.E. he felt called to become a Salvation Army officer and joined the ‘Swordbearers’ session in 1955. Appointed as a lieutenant to Eckington, he soon became a highly successful Youth Officer. Ken had a tremendous love for sport, particularly football, and his Youth Club teams were renowned for their excellence. Ken was a football referee for 27 years and was proud to recall his experiences as a top-level linesman in Division One before he became an officer. Later in life he turned to cricket umpiring and swapped his whistle for a long, white coat.
After his marriage to Jean in 1961 they served at 18 Corps as Commanding Officers before retiring in 1993 from Dudley.
Ken was a minister who not only looked after the Corps in each of these places but also did all he could to get among the townspeople. His Christian influence on them was unmistakable and his services were called upon so very frequently - but he worked tirelessly and gave all he had to deliver love, support and challenge and deemed it a great honour to take the love of Jesus to whoever needed it at any time of the day or night. Whether running holiday clubs in the school holidays, carrying the bodies of so many children through the filthy slag of Aberfan, single-handedly diffusing an armed hostage situation in Clapham, serving tea to rescue workers at a capsized cross-channel ferry in Felixstowe or joyously blowing his trombone in numerous Army bands everything Ken Harry did was done with the purpose of taking Christ to the people.
For over 20 years he was a very active Rotarian, once again doing all he could to serve. In retirement Reading was home for a while before Ken and Jean returned to Portsmouth where he became an irrepressible encourager, following the band and songsters wherever he could and always ready with a smile and a salute for the young people in the Corps.
Although only hospitalized for 2 days prior to his Promotion to Glory his fellow patients in the Ward spoke of his great faith and witness. Less than a day before the end of his life he prayed in his ‘best open-air voice’ for everyone working at the hospital, friends and family. He told Jean he was ready when the Lord wanted him and that he was going ‘Beyond the Blue Horizon’ before he spent his final few hours with Jean and with Marc, Eira and Ruth his beloved children.
Within hours, tributes were pouring in from all over the world as the news of his passing spread. Ken will be missed by so many but we rejoice in his life and the sure and certain knowledge that he is with his Lord in Glory.
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