Dale and Dottie Harro and their five sons lived in a small, 3 bedroom home at the end of Norge Street. I stayed with them frequently during my first five months as Director of DL while my family remained in Texas through the end of the school year. I would enter their kitchen through a five foot hallway filled with coats, shoes, and boots. Dottie would welcome me, and soon we would be drinking tea together. Dottie’s warmth represented well the tone, the feel of their home. I would go through the living room to where I stayed in the small music room which was almost filled with the grand piano. Many had stayed in this room, sleeping with their feet under the piano: a grandfather, a Pakistani nurse, a troubled young man, to list but a few.
The Harro’s did not want their sons growing up in a home their boys might never be able to afford, or to equate having a large, beautiful home with happiness. The family of 7 slept upstairs. The boys had the two bedrooms to the right – and to get to one of the rooms required going through the other. I know from experience, the Harro’s was a happy home. Examples of family fun: every winter the Harro’s worked together to build an ice skating rink in the small back yard using boards, ordinary contractor’s plastic, and tape. Hours were spent playing on this ice. The family often walked or hiked together, and when the need arose, they worked together to help others.
The Harro’s always had good transportation – meaning small, reliable used cars. Dale’s feeling was that cars were for transportation, and said nothing about the people who rode in them. Dale’s clothes were always appropriate, but it could never be said that Dr. Harro was a fashion statement. The Deerfoot Board met in Newark every November, and to save meeting time, a simple lunch was rolled into the room. After everyone had eaten, Dale and I would make sandwiches to eat in the car during our 2 ½ hour ride home. This saved time, and the cost of meals.
To serve people was Dale’s joy. We experienced his care when we asked him to come and check out our daughter, Jenna. Without hesitation, Dale made the 30 minute drive to our home. When he arrived, Jenna was sleeping – so Dale took a nap on our couch. Jenna had been in a car accident and our local hospital checked her out and sent her home. Dale checked her out and suspected a broken pelvis – and it was. He also came to care for Sally Jo’s mom when she became very sick while visiting us. When Sally Jo and I were in Florida for a Deerfoot Board meeting, we were in a car accident. Sally Jo went to the hospital – broken sternum. Dale waited until she was ready to leave the hospital, and then rode with us on the plane back to Albany. Many others tell stories of Dale’s care. At his memorial service we sat next to the man who had called Dale one evening. His wife’s shoulder went out of joint. The husband and Dale carefully laid the woman on the dining room table, and Dale put the woman’s shoulder back into joint. Dale wondered what the neighbors thought when she screamed in the night. As time would allow, Dale would stack wood for people, and take people to their medical appointments. Working with other families, the Harro’s began what is now a large community church.
Dale worked with Albany Medical School to establish a family practice clinic to train students as their residency. As Dale was my doctor, I was in the clinic a couple times a year. There I saw people who must have been similar to those he served in the clinic he set up for the very needy during his 3 years of public service. The clinic staff also cared for the elderly in a near-by nursing home. When Albany Med decided to close the clinic, Dale and another physician in the practice purchased the building and equipment from Albany Med, and continued to train Albany Med residents. Without the medical school’s involvement, the clinic became profitable and repaid Dale and the other doctor’s investment. Now, 30 years later, the clinic has a new building in the same location, continuing to serve the needs of people, while training residents in family practice.
The Harro’s were generous with their time, their talents, and their money. Living simply enabled the Harro’s to give away 1/3 of their income, live on 1/3 and save 1/3. I have never known a more joyous man, a happier family
Dale, like Jesus, walked around doing good. Both taught through their lives and their explanations – a partnership.