James Walter Harris, age 91, of LaGrange, Georgia, passed away peacefully on March 16, 2019 at the WellStar West Georgia Hospice—holding his wife’s hand and surrounded by his children. James was born on July 8, 1927 in LaGrange to the late James Walter Harris and Arvella Curry Harris.
He was a life-long resident of LaGrange, graduating from LaGrange High School in 1944. Shortly after graduating, James joined the United States Army,
serving from 1945 – March of 1947, stationed in Manila, Philippines.
After his honorable discharge from the Army, James returned to LaGrange and worked in his father’s auto body shop located at Lee’s Crossing. Upon his father’s sudden death in 1948, James became the new owner and operator of Harris Body Shop. Later, he relocated Harris Body Shop to a new building on Hill Street and remained the owner and operator until retirement in March of 1992.
Also in 1948, James started dating a beautiful girl named Sue Rainey who was a student at LaGrange College. They were married October 5, 1952 in Columbus, Georgia, by Sue’s father who was a Methodist minister. At the time of James’ death, he and Sue had been married and living together in LaGrange for 66 ½ years.
James was a member of the First United Methodist Church of LaGrange, serving as the President of the Men’s Bible Class for many years. He was a long-time, very active member of the Masons, Union Lodge #28 of LaGrange, serving as Worshipful Master in 1975 and 1983 and was the Director of Works for over 30 years. In 1989, he served as Worshipful Master for the 4th Masonic District, Grand Lodge of Georgia. James was also a member of the Scottish Rite Masonic Temple in Columbus where received his 32nd Degree Scottish Rite Masonic honor.
In 1970, James became a Shriner at Yaarab Shrine Center of Atlanta, and served as Potentate’s Aide to several Potentates. He was a very active member of the LaGrange Shrine Club, serving as President in 1973 and as the Hospital Chairman for many years—a job he thoroughly enjoyed since he was able to help so many children by raising money for Shriners Hospitals for Children, and personally driving children and their parents back and forth from LaGrange to the Shriners Burn Hospital in Ohio for their appointments and treatments. He also brought joy and laughter to everyone by dressing as a clown in the Shriners’ parades and driving funny little Model-T (Tin Lizzy) cars or small dune buggies topped with a giant Shriner’s Fez.
James Walter Harris was preceded In death by his parents James Walter Harris, Sr. and Arvella Curry Harris, of LaGrange, and his two sisters, Martha Harris Johnson of Griffin, GA and Doris Harris Coleman Allenson of Danevang, TX.
Surviving members of James’ family include: His wife Sue Rainey Harris of LaGrange; daughter and son-in-law Elaine Harris Clark and Chuck Clark of Salt Lake City, UT; son and daughter-in-law John Walter Harris and Debbie Harris of Fayetteville, GA; daughter Christy Harris Blair of Rome, GA; 7 grandchildren (Michael and Joshua Harris; Michael, Julia, James, and Stephanie Clark; and Becca Blair), and 14 great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, April 6, 2019 in the small chapel of First United Methodist Church located in the Methodist Ministries Center at 2:00 PM. In lieu of flowers, family request that memorial donations be made to: Shriner's Hospitals for Children, 2900 N. Rocky Point Drive, Tampa, FL., 33607. *Please write in memory of James W. Harris on memo line of check*. Higgins LaGrange Chapel Funeral Home, 706-884-7117.