Saturday, February 09, 2008

Don Harris Dies

Donald Thomas Harris 'Don' Mr. Harris, 71, of Charlotte, died February 7, 2008 at his residence following a long struggle with the damaging effects of diabetes. Born April 9, 1936 at Charlotte's Mercy Hospital, Mr. Harris was the son of the late W.T. 'Bill' Harris and the late LaVerne C. Harris. His father started Harris Super Markets (later to become the successful Harris-Teeter grocery store chain) nine days after Don was born and as destiny would have it, Don would spend his career at Harris-Teeter from the time he could help by sweeping floors until his retirement in July 1995.

He inherited a strong work ethic and most enjoyed his role as the Head of the Non-Foods retailing section of the grocery business. As a young boy, he was a member of the Charlotte Boys Youth Choir and participated as a soloist in the first national coast-to-coast broadcast by a TV network. A mutual interest in music led him to meet his future wife, Beverly Jean Collier, at Central High School. They both performed in school musical events and later would often sing at family gatherings, with Beverly also playing the piano as they sang. A family tradition had them singing 'O Holy Night' on Christmas Eve nights. Both were blessed with lovely voices. Graduating from Central High School in 1954, Don went on to college at Richmond Professional Institute of the colleges of William and Mary in Richmond, Virginia where he graduated with a Retailing degree in 1962. Marrying Beverly in June 1956, they worked together so both could achieve their college degrees, with Beverly graduating summa cum laude from Queens College in 1959.

Over the years Don enjoyed planting a large vegetable garden each spring, accompanied by his close companion, Tasha, a now grieving golden retriever. Don and Beverly enjoyed day trips to the mountains, where Don would look for unusual items for his display cabinets. Vacations were often spent in Charleston, SC, with his childhood best friend, Dick Kirkland and his wife, Mary Lee. Forever with his wonderful sense of humor, Dick would often call and come to visit Don as his health declined steadily over the past couple of years. His friendship meant a great deal to Don, especially as he became increasingly ill and homebound.

Don fought hard against the effects of his diabetes, insisting to be taken shopping for a Christmas present for his beloved wife Beverly, even though he was by then confined to a wheelchair. Don was frustrated with the limitations his illness placed on him and tried to do as much as he could for as long as he could. He could not have accomplished this without the constant and intensive 24 hour care graciously given by his wife of almost 52 years. Beverly amazed everyone with her strength and stamina as she drove him to many specialist appointments and handled his many illness complications. She maintained a perfect memory of his many medications, medical history details, and overlapping health issues.

Often it was she who could best diagnose Don's medical needs confirmed by his caring and cooperative doctors. Having once considering becoming a doctor, Beverly proved through her excellent analysis and care of Don, she would have made an outstanding physician and has been credited for extending Don's life by at least 2 years. She remained on constant watch and offered Don comfort and peace, only bringing in the help of Hospice the last few days of his life so he could remain at home.

Mr. Harris is survived by his devoted wife, Beverly Collier Harris; his daughter, Beverly Harris Tatum and her husband Frank; his son, William Thomas Harris II 'Bill' and his wife, Carolyn. Three grandchildren, Elizabeth Collier Duncan, William Thomas Harris III 'Trey', and LeighAnn Harris also survive him, and all live in the Charlotte area.

Mr. Harris is survived by two sisters, Phyllis Harris Jack Moore and her husband Bob of Round Rock, TX and Resa L. Harris and husband James Wilkins of Charlotte. He is further survived by his sister-in-law, Barbara Collier Griffith Davis and husband Jack; nephews and nieces, Michael Harris Jack and Julie Jack Rodgers, both of Texas, Julia Collier Haas of Vermont, Shawn Griffith Wilson of Florida, and Charles Boyce Griffith of California. He was predeceased by his brother-in-law, William Andrew Collier Jr. and his late wife Jean Collier. Blessed with long lives, Don is also survived by his aunts, Mary Lee Harris Polk of Charlotte, Benita Harris Reed of Columbia, SC, Joyce Harris Scott of Huntsville, Alabama and uncle Robert 'Bob' Harris of Charlotte.

Funeral services will be held at 2 PM Sunday, February 10, at Pritchard Memorial Baptist Church, 1117 South Blvd. The Rev. Bobby Morrow will officiate. Family members will receive friends at the church at 1 PM, prior to the service.Burial will follow at Sharon Memorial Cemetery at the corner of Monroe Road and Sharon Amity Road.

The family has given Lowe Funeral Home, 4715 Margaret Wallace Road, Charlotte, NC, 704-545-3553, the privilege of handling the arrangements. *Due to sanctuary renovations, the service will be in the Pritchard building directly beside the main sanctuary. Memorials may be sent to the Pritchard Memorial Baptist Church Restore the Beauty Fund at 1117 South Blvd, Charlotte NC 28203 or to the Mint Hill Volunteer Fire Department and Emergency Services at 8313 Fairview Road, Charlotte NC 28227.

The family wishes to thank their friends and neighbors for their invaluable support, Mr. Harris's dedicated doctors who worked tirelessly to maintain his health and well-being, to the nurses of the Presbyterian Infusion Center, to Hospice for their brief but quality care and to the many others who contributed to the extended quality of life for Mr. Harris. We are grateful to you all. 'I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness.' II Timothy 4:7-8 I am now at home and at peace-- Published in the Charlotte Observer on 2/9/2008.