Claude “Elwyn” Harris, 97, died peacefully at his home, surrounded by family and caregivers, Saturday, July 15, 2017. He was preceded in death by his wife, Virginia “Ginny” Carolyn Bailey Harris; his brother, William Stafford Harris of Elizabeth City; and his two sisters, Elizabeth Harris Simer of Hooker, Okla. and Margaret Ann Harris Waters of Elizabeth City.
Elwyn was born Sept. 6, 1919 in Elizabeth City, to Claude Leon Harris and Annie Elizabeth Stafford Harris. He graduated from Central High School in 1937.
In 1941, he enlisted in the Coast Guard, was taken aboard ship and bypassed “boot” camp. Upon his return to civilian life in Elizabeth City, he met Virginia Carolyn Bailey. They married on Christmas Day in 1946. They moved to Chadbourn in 1949, when they began working the Bailey family farm. In addition to maintaining his farming duties, Elwyn began working for the United States Department of Agriculture in 1957 as a field analyst. He worked on the USDA’s Carolinas Witchweed Eradication Program until his retirement in 1987.
Over the years, he took on many roles within the community, including serving as a deacon at Chadbourn Baptist Church and as secretary and treasurer of the Columbus County Drainage Commission.
Elwyn provided steadfast stewardship not only for his family, community, and church, but also to the land he worked and the friends and co-workers he saw daily. He could be seen driving his tractor to maintain his garden well into his 90s, and he was known for sharing his garden’s bounty with his neighbors. He took particular pride in his native town of Elizabeth City and its people, yet he loved Chadbourn as his own adopted home. He was honored to have served in the Coast Guard during World War II. His children will remember him for the guidance he provided them and his willingness to let them make their own choices as they grew.
The family will receive friends at 10 a.m Tuesday, July 18 at Chadbourn Baptist Church. Final rites will follow at 11 a.m. with Rev. Dr. Danny Russell officiating. Interment will be in Chadbourn Memorial Cemetery. Worthington Funeral Home is handling the arrangements.
Elwyn is survived by his children, Carolyn Ann Harris Leeds (Ralph Ellison Leeds) of Jacksonville, Ellyn Elizabeth Harris (Leland Denney) of Mount Pleasant, S.C., Suzanne Lea Harris (Alton Chewning) of Chapel Hill, Everett Elwyn Harris of Arlington, Mass.; one granddaughter, Hadley Anne Merizalde Cheris (Alejandro Merizalde) of New Bern; sisters-in-law, “Pat” Harris and Myrtle Edna Bailey Lasley; as well as many nieces and nephews who mourn his passing.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Chadbourn Baptist Church, 504 Howard Street, Chadbourn, N.C. 28431, Lower Cape Fear Hospice and LifeCare Center, 206 Warrior Trail, Whiteville, N.C. 28472 or to N.C. Alzheimer’s Association, 3739 National Drive, Raleigh, N.C. 27612.
Condolences can be sent to http://www.worthingtonfuneralhome.com/obituary?id=307964 using the “Guestbook” tab.
The family would like to thank Lower Cape Fear Hospice and LifeCare Center for the comfort they brought, as well as Jackie McQueen and Loretta Johnson for the loving and exemplary care they provided in Elwyn’s last few years.