BRUCE BRANUM/THE GREENVILLE STANDARD
Jerome Harris passed away this past Friday. He was a beloved community leader, father and husband. Harris started working with the City of Greenville Parks and Recreation Department (GPRD) in September of 1984. In December of 1995 he was promoted to GPRD Director and held that position until his retirement on Jan. 1 2014.
Gregg Fuller, current GPRD Director had these fond words to say of Jerome, “We are all just very saddened at the GPRD. I considered him, not only my boss in this business, but a very good friend. Working with children was his life. He loved kids. His favorite sport was basketball and anybody that ever coached basketball with or against Jerome knew that there was not a better teacher than him.
“I watched practice after practice with some of his teams of young boys and girls and sometimes they would never even take a shot at the basket because he emphasized fundamentals. He would practice them on setting up plays and he would drill it into them. Sometimes, during a two hour practice they would work on one play. He was the kind of coach that could beat you with his team and then could take your team and two weeks later beat you with it.
“If he would have chosen a path as a high school coach, there was no telling what Jerome Harris could have done. He was that good at coaching. I learned from Jerome that it was attention to the little things that often mattered most. I learned so much from him in 15 years. It was a pleasure to work with him.
“I miss the conversations that we had each day while sitting in his office. Sometimes we just talked about family and he truly loved his family.
“I am blessed to not only have known Jerome in his role as GPRD Director, but I got to know him as a good man and a beloved friend. I am extremely grateful I had that opportunity.”
City of Greenville Mayor Dexter McLendon also spoke highly of Jerome saying, “There has not been anybody in the last 30 years that I know of that has helped more kids than he has. He has directly taken them to camps, especially in basketball, because that was his game. He was probably one of the best basketball coaches around here.
“He touched more lives of young people than anybody else I know, and the other thing I would like to say; if there was anything wrong with Jerome, it was that he was too nice for his own good. He was one of the nicest people and he never wanted to hurt anybody.
“He wanted to make everybody happy, which is what we need more of in this world today. He would do anything in the world for you and give the shirt off his back. He made a major impact in our community as far as helping the young people grow up and be better. That’s what I will remember about him more than anything.
Harris was instrumental in the development of fast pitch softball in Greenville and started a youth track program through Hershey Track and Field. That program sent numerous athletes to the national competition in Pennsylvania over the past 25 years. Additionally he was presented with a lifetime membership in the Alabama Recreation and Parks Association in 2014 at the District 6 meeting in Dothan.