Our loss is Heaven's gain. On Friday, January 13, George Walter Harris, Jr., age 71, of Bartow, Florida, went home to be with the Lord.
Born in Tampa, Florida, George grew up in Americus, Georgia, and was CEO & Chairman of the Board of Citrus & Chemical Bank of Polk County. A graduate, of Georgia Tech University with a B.S in Industrial Management in 1956, he was Student Council President and a member of the SAE Fraternity. He graduated from Louisana State University School of Banking. He also served as a U.S. Naval Officer in Key West from 1956-1958.
George was devoted to his wife, Harriett and dedicated to his children, Katherine, Walt and Fran. To his brother, he was a best friend. To his bank and community, he was an inspirational leader. To his friends, he was always loyal and encouraging. To his church, he was a servant.
He was known for his kindness and generosity. His joy was contagious and his humility, authentic. His energy was unending, as was his love for all athletics, especially tennis. From his corporate charitable giving to the scores of anonymous individuals in need, George Harris gave from his heart.
He was recipient of the Tampa Bay Business Hall of Fame Award, the First State-Wide Recipient of the Community Bankers of Florida 'Emblem' Award, the Polk County Opportunity Council "Humanitarian of the Year" Award, the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce "2003 George Jenkins Award", the Bartow Lions Club "Outstanding Citizen of the Year", the Bartow Rotary Club "Outstanding Citizen Medal of Merit", the Polk County Public Schools "Lifetime Achievement Award", the Women's Resource Center "Corporate Leadership for Women" Award. He was a member of First Presbyterian Church of Bartow.
In the crowded hours of his life, George served on the Board of Trustees for the Florida Chamber Foundation and the University of Tampa. He was the Past President and Director of the Florida Bankers Association; the Past Florida State Chairman of the Conference of State Banks Supervisors. Mr. Harris was Chairman of the Polk County Industrial Development Authority; the Board of Governors of the Polk Museum of Art; the Council of Past Chairmen of the Central Florida Development Council; the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Polk Community College; as well as the Board of Directors for the following organizations: Lakeland Economic Development Council; Community Foundation of Greater Lakeland and the Community Foundation of Greater Winter Haven. He was a member of the Past Board of Trustees, Past Board of Directors for the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce; Member of the American Bankers Association Council, and a member of the Society of International Business Fellows.
He is survived by his wife Harriett G. Harris of Bartow; son, George W. "Walt" Harris III of Aspen, CO; daughters, U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris and husband Anders Ebbeson of Sarasota, FL; Fran Harris King and husband Wes of Franklin, TN; Brother, William S. "Bill" Harris and wife Ann of Americus, Ga.; as well as five beautiful grandchildren.
Funeral services will be held at 2:00 PM Wednesday, January 18, 2006, at the First Presbyterian Church and memorials may be made to the George W. Harris, Jr. Foundation, 114 N. Tennessee Avenue, Lakeland, FL 33801.