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Richard Harris of Houston, Texas (formerly of Hamilton, Alabama) passed away Sunday, December 18, 2011, while a patient at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. At the time of his death he was surrounded by his wife Heidi, his daughters Marne French and Kathryn Harris, and his son-in-law Jake French. Richard suffered from Acute Myeloid Leukemia for the past year and had moved to Houston to be near M.D. Anderson for cancer treatment.

Graveside funeral service will be held beginning at 2:00 p.m. Wednesday, December 28, 2011, in the Brownwood Cemetery in Sandersville, Georgia. The family will receive friends at the May and Smith Funeral Home from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. prior to the service Wednesday, December 8th, 2011.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, 1311 Mamaroneck Ave., Suite 310, White Plains, NY 10605. Donations may also be made to the First Christian Church, 166 East Church Street, Sandersville, GA 31082. (This church was founded by Thomas Marcus Harris, Richard’s great-great-grandfather.)

He is survived by his wife, Heidi K. Harris; 2 daughters, Marjorie H. French and Kathryn F. Harris, both of Tuscaloosa, AL.; 1 step-son, Dylan S. Newell of Magnolia, OH.; 1 son-in-law, Jake D. French of Tuscaloosa, AL.; and 2 brothers, William M. Harris, III of Roxboro, N.C. and Michael F. Harris of Lorton, VA.  An avid pet lover, he also leaves 1 dog and several cats.

Richard, a native of Hamilton, Alabama, was born in Russellville, Alabama and attended school in Hamilton, graduating from Hamilton High School. In 1972 he received his B.S. Degree in Chemistry from The Citadel in Charleston, S.C., where he received his commission in the US Air Force. His active duty service was spent at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, where he was a Launch Officer for the Minuteman Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) program assigned to the Strategic Air Command’s 44th Strategic Missile Wing. Following his release from active duty, he entered the Air Force Reserves as an Intelligence Officer assigned to the Air Force Intelligence Reserve program participating on a regular basis until his retirement.

Upon returning to civilian life, he attended Jeff State Jr. College and received an A.A.S. degree in Financial Management in 1978. He continued his education at the University of Alabama, receiving a M.S. in Mineral Engineering in 1981. Following his service as a phosphates mining engineer in central Florida he returned to the University of Alabama for graduate work in Environmental Engineering. In 1991 he received a Masters in Environmental Engineering and pursued considerable further post-graduate studies in Environmental Engineering.

After leaving the University of Alabama, he began a Civil Service career working both for the U. S. Air Force at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida and Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama and the Federal Aviation Administration in Montgomery and Mobile, Alabama.

In addition to his Civil Service career, Richard was president of Harris Environmental, Inc., an environmental consulting and training firm. In his capacity as a trainer, he also served as an Adjunct Professor for several online colleges and universities providing environmental engineering related courses.

Richard was a member of the Masonic orders and the Shriners as well as the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks (BPOE).

May and Smith Funeral Directors in Sandersville, Ga. is in charge of arrangements.

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Sources: May and Smith Funeral Directors in Sandersville, Ga., Legacy.com , and AL.com

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