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A Tribute to Lacee Harris

Lacee Harris, a spiritual care volunteer at HCI, passed away on August 6, 2020. Born on the Uintah and Ouray Reservation in Fort Duchesne, Utah, Lacee volunteered spiritual support to patients at HCI for several years. He previously served as the University of Utah’s Indian Education Advisor for 14 years and helped design the current U of U logo. A few HCI team members who knew Lacee remember him with these words.

"I’m deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Lacee Harris. Lacee was such an important advocate for the spiritual and cultural needs of our American Indian patients. I value the many years he gave of his time in order to provide support and comfort to these patients—indeed to all our patients. We will miss his spirit, his sense of humor, and the love and compassion he brought to the HCI community."
-Mary Beckerle, CEO, Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah

"It was a great honor to work with Lacee over the years. He shared his sacred spirit freely and valued the spirit of others greatly."
—Annie Budhathoki, Acupuncturist, Wellness and Integrative Health Center

"Lacee was a tireless support for our Native patients and families. He shared his humor, wisdom, and spiritual practice openly with patients and families, and they would sometimes page the chaplain again just to tell us about his visit with them. When he and I would talk about how Native patients identified as Episcopalian, Catholic, Christian, and Native, Lacee would say with a twinkle in his eye, ‘Well, my people know it is all one Creation.’ Thank you, Lacee; you have done so much for us. May all Creation welcome you home, and may our gratitude echo to you for all time."
—Rev. John Cooper, Chaplain, Spiritual Care Services

"I had the privilege of learning from Lacee Harris in graduate courses and in working with him as he provided care to some of our patients at HCI. His ability to connect with people on a transcendent level, to connect to self and to the earth and spirit, was like no other. He was a healer on many levels and it was a privilege to work with him and be with him when he did his work with others."
—Amy Horyna, Manager, Patient and Family Social Workers

"I will always remember the blessing I received from Lacee at the Blessing of the Hands event at HCI. After the blessing, I felt spiritually lighter and that feeling lasted for a long time. He truly had a gift as a spiritual healer."
Donna Branson, Director, Patient and Public Education

"Lacee Harris inspired me as a high school student to enter the University of Utah for my undergraduate degree. At that time, he was the advisor for Native American students and assisted us in navigating the university environment. He provided guidance, pep talks, and strategies to help me succeed in my studies. He helped me prepare for the work I did with the Nobel Peace Institute in Oslo, Norway, after 9/11. In my later years as a clinical social worker, he was an example of integrity and clinical and spiritual wealth. I feel blessed to have had him in my life."
—Ramona Sierra, Social Worker, BMT Unit

"I first met Lacee shortly after I started working at HCI in the fall of 2011. I invited Lacee to be one of the spiritual leaders who took part in a blessing ceremony I was planning for the opening of the hospital expansion. He went above and beyond that request, walking every inch of the new space with me the day before the opening while I offered prayers and he chanted Native blessings. He always liked to welcome folks to his home when he was here, reminding us that the hospital had been built on what had been Ute tribal lands. When we started the annual Blessing of the Hands, Lacee joined the other spiritual care givers in blessing the staff. He was the one whose blessings everyone wanted and there was always a line waiting to be smudged by Lacee’s sage and blessed by his words and spirit on the patio. Even though he had health challenges, he continued to serve HCI where and when he was needed until he went home to his ancestors. His beautiful spirit will be greatly missed in our hospital and in the many other places in the larger community where Lacee was always willing to serve."
—Rev. Linda Brewer, Chaplain (Retired)