Cover photo for John Russell Harris's Obituary
John Russell Harris Profile Photo
1952 John 2023

John Russell Harris

November 5, 1952 — September 26, 2023


John Russell Harris, known affectionately to by his childhood friends as Johnny, passed away on September 26, 2023, in Dothan, Alabama, after a prolonged illness. Born to his late parents, Gardner and Jean Harris on November 5, 1952, in the Panama Canal Zone, John's kind, loyal, and steadfast temperament left a lasting impact on all who knew him.

John's life was marked by courage and determination, qualities that were evident when he moved to the United States around 1971 for rehabilitation following a car accident at the age of 17 that left him paralyzed. Undeterred by his physical limitations, John pursued his education at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa, Florida, and later earned a degree in Computer Science from Troy University.

His professional journey was as impressive as his personal one. John served the City of Dothan for 27 years, initially as a draftsman and later making significant contributions to the IT Department. A testament to his intelligence and dedication, John played a crucial role in developing the GPS system for Dothan's 911 service. John was also an inspiration to others as he served on several boards including, Wiregrass Rehabilitation Center and the State of Alabama Independent Living Council. He retired in 2005, leaving behind a legacy of hard work and commitment.

Despite his physical limitations, John never let life pass him by. He was a skilled wood turner who took great pleasure in crafting bowls. His creativity also shone through in his design of their family home, a testament to his ability to adapt and overcome any obstacle. A casual man at heart, John's calm demeanor and even-tempered nature were a beacon of stability for his friends and family. Before his accident John enjoyed surfing with friends and often lived life on Island Time.

John is survived by his loving wife of 22 years, Valerie White Harris, and his stepdaughters, Darcy (Todd) Mainwaring, Cassie (Jeremy) Kobus, and Andrea Bullard. He was a cherished grandfather to Emery and Calvin Mainwaring, and Wylie Kobus. John also leaves behind his brothers, Marshall (Tracy) Harris and Michael "Mickey" Harris, along with a nephew, three nieces, and many friends and family members from the Panama Canal Zone.

Described as kind, intelligent, and courageous, John was more than just Valerie's rock; he was a pillar of strength for all who knew him. His calm demeanor and unwavering loyalty were a source of comfort and stability to those around him.

John's life story is a testament to the power of resilience, determination, and unwavering optimism in the face of adversity. His journey serves as an inspiring reminder that physical limitations do not define us, but how we navigate life's challenges does. John Russell Harris will be deeply missed, but his enduring spirit, his kindness, and his legacy of courage will continue to inspire.

A celebration of John's life will be held at a later date.

Sunset Memorial Park Funeral Home (334) 983-6604
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of John Russell Harris, please visit our flower store.


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