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Charles Edward Harris, 99 years old, died peacefully in his sleep at the Towers Nursing Home on June 26, 2020. He was born October 9, 1920, in Smithville, Texas, the son of Lee Van and Hattie (Phillips) Harris. Charles graduated from Smithville Colored High School, following graduation, he attended Sam Houston College in Austin on an athletic scholarship. He joined the military in 1943, he served as a military policeman in France during World War II in the 780th Military Police Battalion, the first African American Military Police Battalion created in the United States. He received the European-African Middle Eastern medal with two bronze stars and the Victory medal with two overseas bars. He was honorably discharged November 13, 1945 at Ft. Sam Houston. He returned to his hometown of Smithville, Texas where he married Willie Mae Hancock, his childhood sweetheart and fathered three children, Dwight, Dwain and Debra. Over the years he was a business owner (Charlie’s Cleaners), a licensed plumber and electrician and a Smithville City Council Member. He retired after 20 years as an employee of the Department of the Air Force at Bergstrom Airbase in Austin. In his spare time, he enjoyed raising cattle and hogs for extra income. He celebrated 48 years of marriage to his first wife, Mae, before her death in 1994. Following her passing, he married Willie Mae (McGregor) Glover-Harris, on June 13th, 1997. They shared a loving and caring marriage for 23 years.
In his early years Charles joined the Sweet Hill Missionary Baptist Church in Upton, Texas and served on the Deacon Board for many years. In later years he joined and served on the Deacon Board of St. Elmo Baptist Church in Austin. When he and his wife, affectionally called Ms G, moved to Pflugerville, Texas he joined and served on the Deacon Board at St. Mary’s Baptist Church in Pflugerville. In 2019 he moved to Smithville to reside in Tower’s Nursing Home where he transferred his membership to Mt. Pilgrim Baptist Church. In his youth, Charles joined the Joseph D. Sayers Masonic Lodge No. 235 and in later years transferred his memberships to the TKH45 Masonic Lodge and eventually to his current membership at the Web Smith Consistory No. 247 of Austin, Texas.
Charles touched many lives during his lifetime. The longer you knew him, the more you realized how remarkable of a man he was, how remarkable a servant, how devoted to his family, how loyal to friends, how faithful to God. Charles followed Jesus with passion and devotion to his Christian faith.
In addition to his parents, he was predeceased by Willie Mae (Hancock) Harris, his Brothers Julius and Lee Van II, his sisters Lena White, Mabelle and Hattie Harris. He is survived by his wife Willie Mae (McGregor) Glover-Harris, his sister Inez Green, his sons Dwight and Dwain and his daughter Debra Davis, four grandchildren Kayla Heyward, Davina and Deserae Davis and Omar Harris, five great-grandchildren Braydon and Brynlee Heyward, Kynlee and Lilly Phillips and Isaiah Matthews. Nephews and Nieces, Diane Robinson, Lee Van Harris III, Frank Green Jr., Frank Harris, Brenda Pleasant and Beverly Shields. Daughter-in-laws, Debora and Lynda Harris.
Charles lived a good life and continued to receive awards and accolades into his later years. In June 2019 he was awarded the French Legion Medal of Honor, the highest decoration the French government can award, for his service to the French people during World War II. In recognition of his receipt of this award he was recognized with a memorial plaque by the Smithville City Council and Chamber of Commerce.
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