Celebrating our Local Women's History
Stories from Women Living in the Southeast Valley as told by CGCC Students in partnership with Gilbert Historical Museum
Oral History of Doris Harmon Farnsworth  

Oral History of Doris Farnsworth
Interviewed by Brittney Harmon

Doris Harmon Farnsworth Interviewed By Brittney Harmon on March 25, 2008

Doris Harmon Farnsworth was born August 8, 1931 in Gilbert to two wonderful and loving parents, Hubert Harmon and Eva Fenn Harmon. Hubert Harmon served during World War II in the Navy as a Gunner's mate first-class and a member of the Merell-Mitchell Post No. 39 of the American Legion. Doris's father was also one of Gilbert's first police chiefs in the 1930's. After he resigned from the police force department in October 1, 1958, he learned the trade of locksmith and established Harmon's Lock, Safe, and Key, in Mesa, Arizona. Doris's mother Eva stayed at home with the children except for when Hubert went to war; she then got a job at a restaurant as a cook and also ironed clothes to help support their family while Hubert was away. Hubert and Eva lived a long, beautiful life and raised ten wonderful children. Eva passed away in 1996, and Hubert passed away in 1999. The two were married for sixty-nine amazing years.

As a child Doris, loved playing outside, walking barefoot on the hot dirt roads. She recalls running after her Uncle George's ice truck to get pieces of ice cubes to help her cool off on those hot summer days. When she was in Gilbert, it was all dirt roads and fields. There was nothing here."The city of Gilbert has changed dramatically," she said. Doris was the second of ten children, six girls and four boys. During Doris's childhood, she spent a lot of time helping her parents out with her siblings since she was second to the oldest.

Doris attended elementary school in Bisbee, Arizona until she was in 4th grade. The Harmon family moved to Benson for a year, then back to Bisbee and then once again back to Benson when Doris was in the 6th grade. That is where she lived until she graduated from Benson High School. During her high school years, Doris was very social; she had lots of friends. She wasn't really into boys at all during these years. Doris spent her time playing sports and the base drum. She played all kinds of sports, but her all-time favorite sport was volleyball. She played volleyball all throughout high school. In addition, Doris played the base drum in her high school band; she was even chosen to play in the All State Band. Her high school was very small; Doris only had 23 fellow students in her graduating class.

After Doris completed high school, she and her family moved back to Gilbert. She had decided she was going to go to Arizona State University. While she was in school she met a very wonderful man, Marion Beecrost Farnsworth. After only dating for four months, he proposed to her and she excitingly replied yes. After attending ASU for a year, Doris ended up not going back to school since she was getting married and wanted to start a family.  Doris and Marion went to Phoenix to a judge's home and got married. The two were only married three months before she became pregnant with her first child Dale, then came Blaine, Arlene, David, Marvin, Annette, Roy and Shirley. Sadly Doris lost two of her children: Arlene to a dairy farm accident when she was only three years old and Annette to cancer, at the age of forty-five. Doris now has thirty-six grandchildren and twenty great-grandchildren. Doris said, "I absolutely love being a mom, grandmother, and great-grandmother." Doris and her husband have been married fifty-six years and are still going strong. "We take it day-by-day and live life to the fullest every single day."

When Doris's youngest child Shirley was five years old she decided she was going to go back to school. She attended Mesa Community College to become a nurse practitioner. In 1968 Doris took the State Boards to get her license to be a nurse and passed. Doris began working at Mesa General Hospital immediately after she got her license.  Doris worked very hard for twenty years, mostly in the maternity ward taking care of mothers and their children. "I really enjoyed working at the hospital." It was the perfect job for her!

Doris and Marion now live with one of her sons in their guest house in Mesa. She loves to quilt; at least twice a week she tries to go down to the Gilbert Historical Museum where she and her friends gather to quilt and chat. If she could, though, she would quilt everyday, but her hands won't let her. Just in the short time I spent with Doris, I could tell she was a very passionate and loving individual. I am very lucky to have met such an extraordinary person. Doris is an inspiration to everyone.

Photos courtesy of the family.

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Town Marshall Hubert Harmon

Town Marshall George Harmon

Doris Farnsworth and Joan Carroll

Doris Harmon Farnsworth