Community mourns loss of 13-year-old

An inspirational Marshalltown boy who spent several years fighting cancer died Monday.

Tyler Harris, 13, died at the University of Iowa Hospitals in Iowa City surrounded by his family.

Harris is the son of Tom Harris, of Polk City, and Tina Eubanks, of Marshalltown, and was set to enter his eighth grade year at Miller Middle School this fall.

Harris was first diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2007. After surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, the tumor was reduced but it grew back this past year. Through the years, Harris showed courage to share his struggles with his classmates and the community.

His loss has affected many in the community, just as his life impacted so many.

Julie Harvey taught Harris in second grade at Hoglan Elementary School when the tumor was found. She has stayed in touch with the family ever since.

“He went through so many surgeries and he was a tough, resilient kid who would continue to come to school,” Harvey said. “He would have scars and a shaved head and the kids overlooked that and they saw that Tyler was fun and funny and so smart.”

Harvey, like many, drew strength from seeing Harris moving on and enjoying life in the face of all of his battles.

“I think everybody felt strength and admiration for Tyler as the years went on,” Harvey said. “He’s just our little angel in heaven now.”

The Times-Republican profiled Harris several times during which he displayed his bravery in telling his story. As part of the Kids Wish Network, Harris was able to meet his favorite NASCAR driver, Tony Stewart, in 2010 at the Chicagoland Speedway. He also served as an honorary chair of the Marshall County Relay for Life to raise money for the American Cancer Society in 2009.

Visitation for Harris will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday at the Mitchell Family Funeral Home in Marshalltown. Funeral services will be at the funeral home at 2 p.m. Friday.