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Grady Joe Harrison, 1929–2020

Thursday, August 6, 2020
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Grady Joe Harrison went to be with his Lord on July 30, 2020, at the age of 91. He was born in Coleman, Texas, on January 11, 1929, to Grady Harrison and Annie Mae Garrett Harrison. He attended school in Coleman except for one year when his dad moved the family to Talpa, Texas, to operate a grocery store. Joe played football his senior year, starting at end on offense and defense and catching the last touchdown pass in the regional championship game of an undefeated Coleman Bluecats football team. He graduated from Coleman High School in 1947.

Joe was a journalist. He worked at the Coleman Democrat-Voice while he was in high school. After graduation he attended Hardin College in Wichita Falls (formerly known as Midwestern University and soon to be part of the Texas Tech University system). After completing his one-year graphic arts study at Hardin, he was hired at the Montague County Times in Bowie, Texas. He also worked at the Abilene (Texas) Reporter-News for a time.

He married his high school sweetheart, Jo Ann Pirtle, on October 14, 1949; Joe and Jo Ann celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary apart in 2019 as Jo Ann fell and broke her hip.

Joe served in the Army from 1952 to 1954 and was stationed in Stuttgart, Germany, during the Korean War. He was selected to be on the staff for The Stars and Stripes before he elected to come home to his new son, Joe Charles (Chuck). He was honorably discharged in March 1954.

After being discharged from the Army, Joe enrolled at Texas Technical College, where he pursued and obtained a journalism degree, graduating in three years. He worked at the Toreador, the Texas Tech weekly newspaper, where he helped compose a banner headline that Tech was entering into the Southwest Conference. Joe’s son David was born at the end of Joe’s junior year in college.

Joe took a job in Spur at The Texas Spur newspaper with the option to buy. He and Jo Ann purchased the paper shortly afterwards and operated The Texas Spur for 39 years, receiving the prestigious General Excellence Award from the West Texas Press Association, among several other awards in news writing, sports writing, column writing and advertising initiative.

He served on the Spur ISD school board, was Lions Club president and was named Man of the Year twice, was voted Citizen of the year by the VFW, was mayor of Spur, and was named an Honorary Life-Time Member of the Spur Ex-Students Association. He also was honored by 4-H organizations in Dickens and Kent Counties. When Joe retired, the Spur High School Athletic Booster Club presented him with a plaque for 39 years of service in regard to high school athletic programs. The local FFA chapter, the local fire department and the Spur High School National Honor Society each named him an honorary member.

Joe held every position in the Spur First United Methodist Church except pastor and choir director and was the custodian of the church for 10 years, opening up the church, turning on the lights and the heat or air conditioning, starting the coffee, and handing out the Sunday School books. He was an usher and was the head usher for many years, also helping count the offering as the treasurer of the church.

He is preceded in death by his parents; his older brother, Robert Louis Harrison, and his younger brother, Jim Bob Harrison; and seven aunts and uncles.

Survivors include his wife, Jo Ann; his sons Joe Charles “Chuck” Harrison (Nancy) and David “Dave” Malone Harrison (Amy); five grandchildren: Amanda Davis (John), Heather Cruce (Jason), Loeri Harrison, Eric Harrison (Hailey), and Haley McIntosh (Colin); three great-grandchildren: Joleigh and Jaxton Cruce and Hatch McIntosh; a brother-in-law, Dr. Rodney Pirtle (Beth); and brother-in-law Ken McNabb.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a charitable contribution to the Alzheimer’s Association or First United Methodist Church of Spur. There are no events scheduled.