Dale Harro, Born into the Depression #222

Dale Harro, MD died on September 16, 2014. He had served on the Deerfoot Lodge Board of Directors for 33 years. Dale’s 5 sons were Deerfoot campers and staff members, and now his grandsons are Deerfooter’s. Dale and I made 23 round trips between Delmar, NY and Newark, NJ where Deerfoot’s Board of Directors meet every November. Through our hours riding together, I learned what I share with you. When Dale told of these experiences, it was almost always with a smile, a laugh. Through these, and many other experiences, Dale developed into an incredible man with a rock solid trust in his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Dale Harro lived In Partnership With God. I confirmed these remembrances with Dale’s son, Ted, who is now a member of Deerfoot’s Board of Directors.

Dale was born in 1929, the first year of the Great Depression. He was the youngest of 10 children. Soon after he was born, his father lost his job working for the railroad and the family lost their home.

They were able to live in a hovel with no indoor plumbing located on 26 acres. Dale’s father got a truck which he used to haul coal from the mines to people’s homes. At the age of 6 Dale was responsible to buy his own clothes. He earned his money cutting flowers on the “farm”, and he would sell them door to door in a more affluent area of a nearby town. When Dale began school, his teacher would give him ½ pt of chocolate milk for lighting the wood stove every morning. These were tough days for everyone – the recession hit its peak about 1937 – Dale would have been 8 years old. When Dale could reach the pedals, his father had him driving the coal truck. He laughed telling about the day the brakes on the old truck failed, and he headed for the ditch.

When Dale went to Wheaton College he worked in food service. This helped pay his tuition, and provided his food through the week. He shared a room with his brother. There was only one bed, so they slept at different times. They wore the same size, so they shared each other’s clothes. Every weekend their landlord gave them a loaf of bread and a bottle of peanut butter and of jelly. Dale said he wondered how they would have survived without them.

During Dale’s junior year of college, his father had a heart attack. Dale returned home to help care for his father. His father’s physician made house calls and noticed how good Dale was at caring for his dad. The doctor wrote a letter of recommendation for Dale to get into the Temple University Medical School. Even though he had just completed his junior year in college, Dale went for the arranged interview, as nervous as you can imagine. If he was accepted, he would have his draft requirement for the Korean War deferred. After he finished medical school, he would serve his 3 years of public service as a doctor.

During the interview, the Dean of the medical school said that he noticed that Dale had gone to a “religious” school. The Dean went on to say, that if Dale came to Temple Medical School, he would have to set aside his religion. Dale stood up and began to walk out of the office. The Dean asked him why he was leaving, and Dale told him he could never give up his religion. The Dean had him sit down. The Dean completed the interview and Dale was accepted and enrolled immediately.

When Dale did not register for the next semester at medical school, the Dean called him in and asked why. Dale said “no money.” The Dean told him to register anyway. From then on his tuition was paid.

Dale’s public service assignment was to provide medical service for a small town. Soon after he arrived, he came to realize that there was a very poor group of people in the area who were not able to use the clinic. He then set up a clinic for them. After serving the 3 years, he earned his Masters in Public Health from John Hopkins Medical School.

Next week: The impact these experiences had on how Dale lived his life In Partnership With God.

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