Charles Morris Early (August 7, 2015)

11515 Photo rounded rectangle remove color cast sharpen 2 USEOctober 23, 1923 ~ August 7, 2015

Friday, August 14, 2015
3:00 PM
First Baptist Church
Harlan, IA
(get directions)

Wife – Janet Early of Earling, IA
3 Sons – Richard (Jennifer) Early of Des Moines, IA
Bill (Sara) Early of Harlan, IA
Steve Early of Harlan, IA
2 Daughters – Patricia (Dave) Larsen of Burke, VA
Katherine Baxter of Mukilteo, WA
1 Sister – Alma Ruth Sanders of Salem, AR
9 Grandchildren
4 Great-grandchildren
Other Relatives & Friends

Charles Morris Early (Doc), died Friday, August 7, 2015. Born October 23, 1923, in Arkansas City, KS, he was the eldest son of Frank and Faye (Hinton) Early. He went to Utah as part of the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1940 and returned to his home in Sturkie, AR, to graduate from Viola High School in 1942. He joined the U.S. Navy and served as a ship’s cook 2nd class aboard the USS Raton. He received an honorable discharge in 1945. He attended Arkansas City Junior College where he met the love of his life, Janet Estelle Brown. They married June 13, 1948, in Arkansas City, KS.

Doc went on to graduate from Kansas State University in Manhattan, KS, in 1954, with a doctorate in Veterinary Medicine. The first two of their five children, Richard John and Patricia Charlene, were born there. The family moved to Palmer, NE, where a third child, Katherine Anne was born. In 1956, Doc moved his family to Harlan, IA, and started practicing veterinary medicine. He and his wife added two more sons, William Thomas and Steven Paul, and the family was complete. Doc really fell in love with Harlan and Shelby County. He served as a City Councilman, and was on the County Board of Supervisors. He was a member of the Shelby County Fair Board and Concerned, Inc. He and his wife were charter members of the First Baptist Church where he also served as a Deacon and member of the choir. He attended several “March for Life” events in Des Moines. He was an active band parent for the HCHS band. He enjoyed gardening and jigsaw puzzles. As part of his rehab following heart problems, he rode tandem with his son, Bill, in RAGBRAI in 1995 and 1998. A lifelong Cardinals baseball fan; Doc was also a shareholder in the Green Bay Packers.

He had an amazing capacity to love. He loved God, his wife, his family, helping people, animals, Harlan, Shelby County, Iowa, the soil, cornbread and beans, pecan pie, and a good cup of coffee.

He especially loved holding hands with his dear wife.

He was preceded in death by his parents, three brothers, Richard, Merle, and Louis, and one grandson, Jedidiah. He is survived by his sister, Alma Ruth Sanders of Salem, AR, his wife, Janet, and their children, Richard (Jennifer) Early of Des Moines, IA, Patricia (Dave) Larsen of Burke, VA, Katherine Baxter of Mukilteo, WA, Bill (Sara) Early of Harlan, and Steve Early of Harlan. His grandchildren, Martha, Sam, Graham, Colin, Kenneth, Tom, Gabe, Hannah, and Matt and great-grandchildren, Lucy, Alex, Eva, and Ferris also mourn his passing.

The memorial service was held on Friday, August 14, 2015, at the First Baptist Church in Harlan, IA, with Father Glenn Rankin officiating. Serving as the musician was Helen Warren. The family requests, in lieu of flowers, a donation be made to the ASPCA at their website, The Burmeister-Johannsen Funeral Home in Harlan, IA, was in charge of the arrangements. Condolences may be left online at


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7 Responses to Charles Morris Early (August 7, 2015)

  1. Frank DeWees says:

    Bill, Steve, and family,
    We are very sad to hear that Doc has passed. He was certainly a part of history of Harlan during my time growing up there. I remember him as a great servant to the community and I believe he left a wonderful legacy in his family. Our family sends their condolences and prayers for you all. We hope all your memories are good ones.

  2. Carrie Byrnes Wurr says:

    To the Early Clan:
    I can’t begin to tell you how much my heart hurts for you. You are all very special people & Doc was a special person, too. I remember his soft touch with animals & his magical way of never aging! Most recently I remember him holding hands with his lovely bride while walking here & there. There’s a special place in Heaven for him, that’s for sure.
    You’ve got my heart, prayers & many many hugs.

  3. Joyce Early Counterman says:

    to the children of Charles Morris Early, I want to say how sorry I am to hear that you lost your father, and my Uncle. He lived a good long time and his God took him home to be with him. I look forward to meeting him in Heaven when my time comes. I loved him very much . Joyce

  4. Maribeth Zimmerman says:

    Dear Family of Doc. Early,
    Your husband and father will always have a special place in my heart. He tended my dad’s milk cows when I was growing up. He was so gentle and kind! He was my hero as he encouraged my dreams of working with animals. Later when I saw him as he and Janet took walks about the square he gained my respect all over again. I saw how he cared for Janet! I got to connect again with him when he and Janet came to the Senior Center for their noon meals whenever I was working there. He will be missed! He was such a fine man!!!!!

  5. Paul S Zimmerman says:

    To the family of Doc Early,

    Our men’s group met Monday night and Mike Gaul mentioned that Doc had passed away. We had a long conversation about Doc recalling tales of Doc braving treacherous winter weather to treat a cow with milk fever, to his kind demeanor giving you the feeling that he really cared about you. I recall a trip to Des Moines that he took with my dad and some others (myself included). At the State Capitol we lobbied for the unborn baby’s right to life. He was a man who just cared about things like that. He loved God and loved life. May he rest in the peace of Christ.

    Paul Zimmerman

  6. Maurice & Dottie Knudsen says:

    Dear Family of “Doc” Early,

    “Doc” was veterinarian for my dad, Allan Knudsen, in rural Harlan while I was growing up. He was very caring. Dad thought very highly of “Doc.” My Dad was a devout follower of Jesus Christ and I believe he and “Doc” even talked about spiritual things when he’d make a call.

    I know you’ll all miss him but I’m sure that being in God’s presence is far better than anything this old world can offer.

    May the Lord comfort you all,
    Morry (and Dottie)

  7. Julia Coenen Smallwood says:

    Dear Janet & Family,
    I’m so sorry to hear of the passing of Doc. I have such fond memories of him when we were growing up on Willow and lived across the street from you. My most vivid memory is of him calling my sisters and I “Pixie, Dixie, and Jinx”. Years later, when our family joined First Baptist Church, he would occasionally remind me of that and ask which one I was.

    Please know that you are all in my prayers. Take comfort in knowing that some day you will see him again on the other side. May your many memories provide you comfort until that day.

    Julia Coenen Smallwood
    Shawnee, Kansas

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