Harry Vernon Combs, Jr. passed from this life Wednesday July 14, 2021. Harry was born on October 12 1938 in Neptune, NJ to the late Harry and Bernice Combs. He was a beloved husband to Judi for over 50 years, a devoted father, a caring brother and a loving grandfather and great grandfather.
Harry was a union plumber with 50 plus years in local 24. He was a proud veteran of the US Navy Seabees, with over 30 years in both active duty and reserves, serving his country proudly all over the world. He retired in 1998 at the rank of Senior Chief Petty Officer.
Harry played the part of an officer in the 12th Virginia Cavalry Civil War reenactment organization for many years, where he could be seen riding across a battlefield, sword in the air, leading his troops into battle with a loud rebel yell. When the family moved to a Virginia farm, he was able to live his dream of a simpler life and he instilled in all of his children an understanding of the value of honest hard work and simple pleasures. When the family moved back to Jackson NJ, he continued in the farming spirit with a huge garden filled with heirloom produce ranging from asparagus to gooseberries. We remember fondly the wooden hot tub he built, fueled by a cast iron wood stove, where he nearly parboiled his first grandchildren. He could often be found working on one of his guns at his workbench on the front porch, especially when his teenage daughters had a date coming over.
With the move to Bayville, NJ came the purchase of his sailboat, a 35 foot Freedom yacht named The Summer Place. While they may not have done a whole lot of sailing, Harry and Judi spent many weekends hanging out on the boat at the dock with family and friends.
Harry was an avid hunter, fisherman, and general outdoorsman. He learned to swim in the ocean as a toddler and spent much of his life since in or on the water. He was a proud member of the Fishhawks fishing club, and won many awards and trophies for record setting catches. In the past few years, his ocean fishing trips were often the highlight of his month. He was delighted to share his love of fishing with his granddaughter Amanda, who he fondly referred to as his fishing buddy.
Harry travelled to 5 continents, taking trips everywhere from Greece, to Cuba, to Ecuador, to Fiji. His African safaris and many other hunting trips have resulted in numerous mounts displayed in his home, which we lovingly refer to as “the Dead Zoo”. Whether it’s the crow mounted on an Old Crow liquor bottle or the bear lunging out of the dining room wall or the baboon head on a walking stick, the mounts displayed throughout the house reflect both his hunting skill and often his sly humor.
Harry was a man you could depend on, who could do it, make it, grow it or fix it depending on what was needed. As his daughter Lisa said, his house was where you’d want to go in case of an apocalypse because he would know how to survive. He carved and painted his own duck hunting decoys, made wine from dandelion greens and raisins, built his own wine cellar and got rid of most of the neighborhood squirrel population. He was a self-taught scholar of history, who built the first house he owned and built a copper still in the last house he owned. As his son Scott said, Dad forgot more than I’ll ever know.
Harry was a proud American and a proud family man. He was proud both a daughter, a son and a grandson followed in his footsteps into military service. He was proud his daughters were independent women with careers that could support them. He was proud his son followed him into the plumber’s union, in later years even being able to work together with him. He was proud of all of his grandchildren, whether attending baseball games, marching band competitions, dance recitals or tennis matches. He was proud to have been able to attend the weddings of several grandchildren, and to hold his great grandchildren.
Harry is now reunited with his wife Judi who he sorely missed this past 6 months. We believe they have upgraded from the Elvis impersonator and are slow dancing once again as Elvis sings “Love Me Tender”.
Harry is predeceased by his wife Judith Ann Combs; He is survived by: his brother Donald Combs and his wife Joy of Tennessee, his son, Scott “Buzz” Combs and his wife Bridget “BB” of Laurel Springs, his daughters, Lisa Lockwood and her husband Brian of Toms River, Vicki Combs of Farmingdale and Lori Eggen and her husband Michael of Bayville; 11 grandchildren: Sheridan, Jordan, Alex, Christina, Jennifer, Christopher, William, Hillary, Lydia, Amanda and David; 5 great grandchildren Nadav, Aubrey, Gideon, Noa & Wyatt; and BB’s children Tommy, Leya and Gigi.
The family will receive friends and family on Wednesday July 21, 2021 from 4-8 PM at Timothy E. Ryan Home for Funerals O’Connell Chapel, 706 Atlantic City Boulevard, in Bayville. A chapel service will be held at 12 PM, Thursday July 22, 2021 at the funeral home with burial to follow at Ocean County Memorial Park, Toms River. In lieu of flowers the family encourages donations to one of the charities Harry was proud to support, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
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