(November 8, 1941 – May 31, 2023)
Rusty Harris of Fairy Texas went to be with his Lord and Savior at the age of 81 years 6 months on May 31, 2023.
He was given the name Perry Orville Harris at birth in Snyder, Scurry County, Texas on November 8, 1941, by his parents Nellie Jo and Newton Harris. However, Nellie Jo called him her “rusty baby” and the name stuck. All his friends and most acquaintances only ever knew him as Rusty.
In 1952 he moved with his parents to a property located in Fairy, Hamilton County, Texas. He graduated from Fairy Public School in 1960, then attended Tarleton State College for 1 year. To pay for his college tuition and books while at Tarleton, he worked at a wooden sucker rod plant. Rusty transferred to Sam Houston State College, attending classes and working early mornings and weekends delivering eggs and making rounds at a chicken farm. He succeeded in earning an Agriculture Education degree. He continued with his education at Sam Houston College and obtained a Master of Education – Agriculture degree in 1966. His last year of college he worked for a welding company building livestock gates. While at Tarleton and Sam Houston, Rusty participated in the Army Reserve Officers Training Corps completing the required four semester program. However, he was never called to serve in the military.
Rusty’s first marriage with Janice Walton was blessed with a daughter Lannette and a son Doug.
Rusty Harris obtained employment as a Vocational Agriculture Teacher at both Huckabee and Lingleville Schools. He received a “Distinguished Service Award” in 1967 from the Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association in recognition of his leadership in presenting the vocational agriculture and future farmer program to the people of Texas through a carefully planned publicity program. Realizing that his current employment was not going to enable him to reach his goal of purchasing the family farm in Fairy in the time frame he desired, Rusty made a career change.
For the next five years he co-owned and operated a fertilizer company in Rockdale Texas. The company thrived and prospered, and he eventually had enough equity built up in the company to sell his interest and use the capital to put a down payment toward the purchase of the Fairy farm. Rusty faced many obstacles in over 45 years of farming and ranching. His dedication and drive to succeed enabled him to expand his land ownership, lease additional land, and build a seed processing plant on his property.
Rusty formed R & D Seed Company which cleaned his and customers’ seed and sold oats, wheat, and triticale. In 2000, he was recognized by the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce as the “Agri-Business of the Year.” Rusty began to also purchase and sell additional seed from other companies. He excelled in sales and received West Gaines Seed, Inc.’s “Top 10 Dealer Award” in 2014 and 2015.
Rusty Harris had been a member of Fairy Baptist Church since 1976. In 2004 he was appointed to a position as a deacon for the church and served as the church treasurer for over 10 years. His relationship with his Lord and Savior was his focus, followed by his passion for farming and ranching, and his concern for local and national politics.
Serving on the Hamilton board representing Texas Farm Bureau enabled Rusty to be informed of legislative and government issues that could affect not just him but affect farmers and ranchers nationally. He was very proud of the work that Farm Bureau accomplishes. November 2020 Rusty Harris was awarded the Texas Farm Bureau Pioneer Award in recognition for a lifetime of exemplary service in building the TFB organization and his support of Texas agriculture.
Rusty served on the Hico ISD School Board for three years and had the privilege of awarding his son Doug Harris and stepdaughter Stacey Weems their high school diplomas. Rusty served on the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service Hamilton County committee for ten years. Working in cooperation with federal employees, the committee’s mission was to promote conservation and price stability. He also served on the Hamilton County Tax Appraisal Review Board for several years.
Rusty was preceded in death by his parents and his brother Billy Wayne Harris. Survived by his wife Donna Harris married 24 years and 11 months. Daughter Lannette (Glen) Garrett, son Doug Harris, and grandchildren Harrison (Willow) Garrett, and Kayla Garrett. Rusty is also survived by his sister-in-law Xan Harris, his stepdaughter Shanna (Justin) McCoy and their children Trinidy, Coleden and Melody, and stepson Nathan Gard (Amanda) and their children Ella and Grayson.
Visitation with the family at Harvest Hills Funeral Home on Friday, June 2 from 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm.
Funeral Service will be on Saturday, June 3 at 1:00 pm at Fairy Baptist Church with Pastor Bob Ray officiating. Graveside service at Fairy Cemetery to follow. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations in his memory to Fairy Baptist Church or the Alzheimer’s Association.