Tifton Gazette


May 15, 2014

Merlyn Lavara Bishop Harris

ENIGMA — Merlyn Lavara Bishop Harris, 87, of Enigma arrived in her eternal home on May 15, 2014. Funeral services will be held at 4 p.m. Sunday in the chapel of Bowen-Donaldson Funeral Home for Funerals. The Rev. Pete Jones and the Rev. John Harrington will officiate with burial to follow at Enigma Cemetery.

Nephews and caregivers at Southern Care Assisted Living will serve as pallbearers. The family will receive friends from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday at Bowen-Donaldson Home for Funerals.

Mrs. Harris was born on July 20, 1926 in Berrien County and was the daughter of Percy Joel and Ethel Norris Bishop. She was the granddaughter of Robert and Mallie Thorpe Norris, Archie and Molly Bishop and Joseph Turner (Daddy Joe). For 54 years, she was married to her beloved Vernon C. Harris. All preceded her in death.

Mrs. Harris had a long active career in education spent in Tift and Berrien counties as a classroom teacher, reading specialist, librarian and director of curriculum. She enjoyed setting up the kindergarten program in Tift County. To expand her education, she studied and became a flower show judge and was an active member of the Pine Garden Club.

Mrs. Harris led a committee in beginning the South Georgia Native Plant and Wildflower Symposium, which is still ongoing today. This introduced several thousand men and women to native landscape and the cultivation of many wildflowers in south Georgia. During her career, she was active in many professional organizations, such as the National Education Association, Georgia Education Association, International Reading Association and others.

Mrs. Harris was a member of the order of Eastern Star and served as a grand state officer. For a number of years, she also served as an officer for the American Legion Auxiliary, Post 21. She participated in Delta Kappa Gamma for professional women in education. Her longstanding commitment as a member and volunteer secretary of the Enigma United Methodist Church led to her also being named an organizational leader. She attended many church district conferences.

Mrs. Harris loved and admired all of her family members for their individual values, especially her siblings and each of her children and grandchildren. They, in return, loved and admired her. She was "Sister" to her eight younger siblings, Jean Staufer, Carolyn Brennen, Linda Burchett, Jim Bishop, Nell Pancake, Mary Beth Tucker, Charles Bishop and David Bishop. Her two siblings, George Bishop and Juanita Crum, preceded her in death.

Known to her loving children as "Mother," Mrs. Harris is survived by her daughter and son-in-law, Verno Belle and Harley Davidson; her son and daughter-in-law, Rick and Zena Harris; and her son and daughter-in-law, Roger and Toni Harris. She was "Nana" to her grandchildren, Chad Barfield, Clint and Jenny Barfield, Grant Harris, Michael and Jamie Harris, Beverly Harris and Heath Harris Spradley. She was "Big Nana" to Charlie Barfield, Bailey Harris, Parker Leigh Harris, Hannah Branch and Garrett Spradley. She was preceded in death by two infant sons and a beloved grandson, Phillip Harris.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Enigma United Methodist Church, Enigma, GA 31749, or Hospice of Tift Area, P.O. Box 747, Tifton, GA 31793.

Condolences may be sent to the family at the online guest registry at www.bowen-donaldson.com.

Services for the Harris family are under the care and direction of Bowen-Donaldson Home for Funerals.


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