Eric W. Harris
|Eric Wyckoff Harris, Sr.|
January 8, 1916|
Rapides Parish, Louisiana, USA
|Died||October 24, 2007
Alexandria, Rapides Parish, Louisiana
|Occupation||Businessman; Founded first Jaycees chapter in Louisiana|
|Spouse(s)||Nelwyn Rhodes Harris (married 1941 – his death)|
Eric W. Harris, Jr.
Eric Wyckoff Harris, Sr. (January 8, 1916 – October 24, 2007) was an Alexandria businessman and civic leader who in 1939 headed the committee which organized the first Louisiana chapter of the Jaycees, or United States Junior Chamber. A builder and real estate developer, he was co-owner of Hill Harris & Company from 1936 until 2005, when he and his brother, James C. Harris (1913–2009) closed the business, which was founded by their father.
Harris was born to Homer H. Harris, Sr. (1890–1971), and the former Arletta Cato (1888–1987) at Hard Times Plantation south of Alexandria. The family moved to Alexandria in 1921. He graduated from Bolton High School in Alexandria, attended Baptist-affiliated Louisiana College in Pineville for two years, and graduated from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. He was a member of Sigma Chi social fraternity. During World War II, Harris volunteered in the United States Army Air Corps. He piloted B-29 bombers.
Harris was a member of the Alexandria-Pineville Chamber of Commerce and chaired its aviation committee. He also served for a decade on the Rapides Parish Aviation Authority, including two years a president. Harris was a director of the Central Cities Development Corporation and a former president of the Rapides Parish Industrial Development Board. He was past president of the Alexandria Lions Club and scored perfect attendance for sixty-three years. He was active in the Committee for a Better Alexandria and worked on the development of navigation projects on the Red River.
Harris was survived by his wife of sixty-six years, the former Nelwyn Rhodes of Alexandria; two daughters, Sandra Harris Kearney, and her husband, James Michael Kearney of Alexandria, and Conni Harris Smith of Lafayette, the widow of Hadley M. Smith (1940–1996); one son, Eric W. Harris, Jr. (born ca. 1942) of Moncks Corner, South Carolina; brother James C. Harris of Alexandria, and five grandchildren. He was preceded in death by another brother, Homer Harris, Jr. (1910–1999).
Harris' brother, James Harris, was also an LSU graduate and a United States Navy veteran of the North Africa and Pacific theaters of World War II, with service in the Philippines. James Harris, who retired from Hill-Harris at the age of ninety-two, was also active in the Alexandria community, having been former presidents of both the Kiwanis Club and Kent Plantation House, Inc., a restored 19th century structure near Bayou Rapides.