The Orange Leader
Murray Lee Harris, 96, of Tyler, TX, died Easter Sunday, April 20, 2014, at Mother Francis Hospital after a short hospitalization for pneumonia. He was born in Yowell, Delta Co, TX, September 16, 1917, to William Womack Harris and Ruth Miller Harris. He was raised in Corsicana, TX, 1 of 5 siblings and of 13 cousins in a close-knit family. After attending the University of Texas, he followed in his father’s footsteps and pursued a legal career, graduating from Texas Law School in 1942. He then served as navigator for 4 years in the U.S. Navy aboard oil and gas tanker ships in the Atlantic and Pacific theaters during WWII, rising to the rank of First Lieutenant. Afterwards he joined his father in private practice in Quitman, TX, for several years until his election to Wood County Attorney in 1951-1952. From 1953 to 1957 he served as an Assistant U.S. attorney under William M. Steger in Tyler, TX. During this period he married Ruth Reavley of Nacogdoches, TX, and they had two children, Brent and Ruth. He eventually left this office to return to private practice in Orange, TX, where he partnered with Frank Hustmyre. He enjoyed his legal practice in Orange from 1957 to 1974, at which time he was appointed Clerk of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. He served in this capacity under U.S. District Judge Joe Fisher until 1980 when U.S. District Judge William Wayne Justice, a law school classmate of his, became Chief Judge and the clerk’s post was moved to Tyler. He continued as District Clerk in Tyler until 1992, when he assumed duties as special assistant to Chief Judge Robert M. Parker, a position he held until 1994.
Retirement allowed for more time with friends and family, particularly his brothers, Rev. Marion Harris and William Wesley Harris, with whom he shared a love of raising Tennessee Walking Horses. A lifelong Baptist, he served as deacon and taught Sunday School at First Baptist Churches in Orange and Tyler for many decades. With memories large and small of the Great Depression and World War II, tempered by the love of and for family, friends and the Lord, he combined the understanding of a realist with an optimistic outlook, resulting in a view of life thoroughly imbued with insight, irony and humor.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Ruth, in 2003, siblings William Wesley Harris, Rev. Marion Harris and Elizabeth Harris Ayers, brother-in-law Rev. J.T. Ayers, and sister-in-law Florence Wilson Reavley.
He is survived by his son and daughter-in-law, Dr. Brent Reavley Harris and Deborah Rhodes Harris of Tyler, their children, Matthew Rhodes Harris and Meredith Lee Harris, and by his daughter and son-in-law, Ruth Lee Harris Yeager and Glenn Barnett Yeager of Tyler, and their children, Jordan Harris Yeager, Callie Ruth Yeager, and Austin Thomas Yeager. He is also survived by his sister and brother-in-law, JoAnn Harris Means and Terry Means of Aledo, TX, sisters-in-law, Julia Ben Majors Harris of Dallas and Eleanor Lee Harris of Tyler, brother-in-law Thomas Morrow Reavley of Houston, his cousin, Frances Harris Mahoney of Seguin, TX, as well as by many nieces, nephews and other relatives. Honorary pallbearers will be his grandsons, Matt Harris, Jordan Yeager, and Austin Yeager, and his nephews, Majors Harris, Wes Harris, Tom Harris, Tim Harris, Robert Means, Tom Reavley, and Paul Reavley.
A visitation will be held at Lloyd James Funeral Home, 1011 East First Street in Tyler, TX, on Tuesday, April 22nd, from 5 to 7 p.m. Graveside services will be at Rose Hill Cemetery, 2400 S Donnybrook Ave. in Tyler, on Wednesday, April 23rd, at 11:00 a.m. A memorial service will be held at First Baptist Church of Tyler, 301 W Ferguson St in Tyler, on Wednesday, April 23rd, at 2:00 p.m. Memorial donations may be made to First Baptist Church of Tyler, TX.