James Jackson Harris (May 13, 1907 - Nov. 18, 1985)
Insurance man. Developer. Philanthropist.
Civic Leader. James J. Harris was all of these and more. Born on May 13, 1907, in Athens, Georgia, James Harris, known as Jimmy,
up in Athens, Georgia, Jimmy Harris began a life long relationship with
the local YMCA. As an athlete, he participated in swimming meets, as well
as on basketball teams.
Going to the University of Georgia in his hometown, he continued in athletics while working on a degree in civil engineering. Upon graduation in 1929, he went to work for the Southern Underwriters Association in Atlanta.
While visiting Charlotte on a project, he decided to relocate. On Oct. 6, 1934, he married to Angelia Morrison, the daughter of former North Carolina Governor Cameron Morrison.
In 1937, he launched his general insurance agency business James J. Harris & Company in Charlotte.
When World War II occurred, he became a Lieutenant Commander in the Navy (1942 - 1945). Returning from service, he continued his insurance business, while getting involved in community service.
He headed the first of several capital campaigns for the YMCA, as well as serving on many non-profit boards in North Carolina and around the country.
He was named Charlotte News' Man of the Year in 1960.
Jimmy also enjoyed spending time with his growing family and participating in outdoor sports.
The Morrison estate was a vast farm, and Jimmy had added more land to the tract. The farm was subsequently developed into today’s SouthPark area in Charlotte – a model of development with shopping, offices and housing.
He started Quail Hollow Country Club and was instrumental in helping to bring a PGA TOUR event to Charlotte in the 1960s the Kemper Open.
He served on numerous boards, including those for American Credit Corp., Stanwood Corp., North Carolina National Bank, Wachovia Bank & Trust Co., Eckerd Drugs, Inc., Charlotte-Mecklenburg Hospital Authority, Davidson College, Western Carolina College and Queens College. He received many awards and honorary degrees.
One of the leaders in building Charlotte toward national prominence, James Harris also wanted to leave a legacy for tomorrow. Founded in 1984, the James J. & Angelia M. Harris Trust continues to support worthwhile educational causes and community services.
The Harrises had three children Cameron Harris, John Harris and Sarah Bissell.