Minister William R. Harris, 75

Posted: June 06, 1990

The Rev. William R. Harris, 75, pastor of Siloam Baptist Church in Norristown for 26 years and a former member of the Norristown Board of Education, died Saturday at his home in East Norriton.

"He's a person with great interest in humanity, " said his wife, Doris Davis Harris. "He was always interested in representing not only his congregation, but his race as well as the community at large."

Mr. Harris, who is listed in Who's Who Among Black Americans, served on the Norristown Board of Education from 1968 to 1977.

His 10 years on the school board were "quite a sacrifice," said his wife, adding he sought election to the time-consuming position because he "felt the need for black representation and for the best education possible for all boys and girls."

Mr. Harris was born in Concord, N.C., and grew up in Pittsburgh. In 1941 he graduated from Virginia Union University with a bachelor's degree in chemistry. He was ordained a minister in Pittsburgh in 1942.

Mr. Harris served as pastor at the Shiloh Batist Church in Warrensburg, Mo., from 1944 until 1946. He also served as dean of the Western Baptist

Seminary in Kansas City, from 1943 to 1946. In 1952 he took over as pastor at Beulah Baptist Church in Pittsburgh and stayed until 1963, when he moved to Norristown to lead Siloam Baptist Church.

Mr. Harris was a member of the Foreign Mission Board of the National Baptist Convention and served on evangelical teams to Africa and the Caribbean, and he was a part of the first black team sent to South Africa in 1975. He was a member of the Norristown Ministerium, a group of Norristown pastors, and served as its president in 1979. He was moderator of the Suburban Baptist Association and a member of the NAACP of Norristown, which he chaired in 1974.

He also served as the first president of the Mental Health and Retardation Center of Montgomery County.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by two daughters, Elaine Jeanne and Pauline Marie, and a sister, Thelma Worrell.

A viewing will be held from 7 to 9 tonight at Boyd-Horrox Funeral Home, 200 W. Germantown Pike, Norristown, and from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Thursday at Siloam Baptist Church, 1319 Willow St., Norristown, where funeral services will be held immediately after the viewing. Burial will be at Belmont Cemetery in Youngstown, Ohio.

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