Cover photo for Melody Lane Harris's Obituary
Melody Lane Harris Profile Photo

Melody Lane Harris

February 17, 1948 — August 24, 2023

Afton, Oklahoma


Melody Lane Harris, 75, of Afton, Oklahoma, passed away August 24, 2023, in Vinita, Oklahoma. She was born February 17, 1948, in Shell Lake, Wisconsin, to Lennart Bernhard Rydberg and Florence Elaine (Moss) Rydberg. Melody was a 1966 graduate of Miami High School, in Miami, Oklahoma, where she was a member of the Miamiettes Drill Team.  She continued her education at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M college in Miami. Melody met the love of her life, James “Jimmy” W. Harris, while she was in High School, and he was attending NEO A&M. They were married on September 10, 1967 at the Baxter Springs, Kansas First United Methodist Church while Jimmy was in the United States Air Force. They moved to Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi, then Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, Nevada, where their daughter was born January 21, 1969. They later settled in Baxter Springs where she was a librarian at the Baxter Springs Public Library during the 1970’s and 80’s. Melody ran the Children’s Group at the library and created marionettes and worked with the Childrens Marionettes Troupe. She was also the Baxter Springs Brownie Troop Leader for her daughter and was a 4H Leader for various projects. In 1983 she and Jimmy purchased and ran Sweetwater Grocery at the junction of US Hwys 59 and 125 Fairland, Oklahoma. Melody became known as the “Chicken Lady” after people around the area would dump unwanted animals off at the store and she would find homes for them. What started as dogs and cats soon became animals of any kind including chickens and roosters. The Miami newspaper even ran an article about her kindness. In 2009 her three grandchildren were born on her 42nd wedding anniversary, and she and Jimmy drove in the middle of the night to welcome them that morning. Melody never missed one holiday event or activity with her husband, daughter, and grandchildren. Her husband Jimmy was the love of her life, and he and her daughter and grandchildren were the light of her life and her world. Nothing made her happier than bringing home special treats and gifts to let them know she loved them and to make them smile.  She created a beautiful tapestry across lives with her infectious smile, ever-present ability to see sunshine beyond the clouds, and unwavering belief in magic.  In addition to her own family, she shared this spirit with her friends, co-workers, customers, and strangers, while working at Wal Mart in Vinita, Oklahoma.  Melody loved music, reading, art, animals, nature, gardening, crafts, snow, hot dogs and s'mores cooked in her wood stove, all things Christmasy, Chicken Soup for the Soul books, the KC Renaissance Festival, bags of homemade snow frappuccino, shopping adventures with her daughter and her grandchildren, and holidays, celebrations, outings, and just do-nothing days as long as they were spent when her husband, daughter, grandchildren, doggies, and granddogs.  She instilled her generosity and kindness to her daughter and grandchildren, and rarely left anyone untouched by her caring and love. Melody will be missed by all who knew her.

Preceding Melody in death are her parents, Lennart and Florence Rydberg, and a brother Bernard Bruce Rydberg. Survivors include her loving husband, Jimmy Harris, of the home in Afton; a daughter, Kristie Ann Harris, of Afton; three grandchildren, Sophie Elane Harris, Michael James Harris, and Olivia Francine Harris, all of Afton; a brother, Ronald Lee Rydberg, of Baxter Springs, Kansas; other relatives and a host of friends.

Visitation for Melody Harris will be held from 9am to 7pm Wednesday, September 6, 2023, and 9am to 9pm Thursday, September 7, 2023, at the Luginbuel Funeral Home of Vinita at the Family Center in the Arrangement building.

Melody’s family will be present Thursday evening from 5pm to 9pm for any who want to stop by during that time to celebrate her life with them.

 Online condolences may be left at or see our Facebook page. 

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Melody Lane Harris, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

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Wednesday, September 6, 2023

9:00am - 7:00 pm (Central time)

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Thursday, September 7, 2023

9:00am - 9:00 pm (Central time)

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