Many may wonder what the secret to a long and happy life is, but for Virginia Harris, life is about living and enjoying what may come. Born in 1927, Harris will be celebrating her 90th birthday on Saturday.
Although she currently resides at Prestige Estates in Tyler, Harris spent all of her life living in Troup. She grew up on a farm in the country where her family raised watermelons, cantaloupes and other country foods. One of her favorite activities was to help her mother in the garden. Harris remembers a few occasions where she would get into the bull nettles of the cotton patch and get stung, at which point her family would then doctor and take care of her.
Living in the country, Harris said her parents would have to drive her to school each morning. The weekends, however, were for fun and games. Harris and the other children in town would get together to play jump rope or tag outside.
Harris attended Troup High School where she played clarinet and was a drum major, as well as a majorette. Harris has fond memories of a little country store on the school grounds that she and the other girls would go to at noon during the lunch hour. They would save their money to buy small items to take home and food to eat for lunch.
Harris also met her husband, Grady Harris, in high school. She was a freshman and he was a senior. Harris said she was first attracted to him because he was “good looking” and a “heartthrob.” His affection and sense of humor eventually led her to marry him. She and Grady also loved dancing together, especially ballroom dancing.
After graduation, Harris went to Tyler Commercial College and got a degree in business. She then worked for the college as the registrar’s secretary for several years. She also worked for an insurance company and for Harris Cleaners, owned by her husband’s family.
Harris recalled that there wasn’t much to do during World War II. However, she joined a choir that performed at Camp Fannin, a military base in Tyler, for the soldiers. They would practice patriotic songs and then sing in front of the troops to entertain them.
After marrying Grady, Harris had her first child, a daughter, in 1949 and her second child, a son, 13 years later. Her children became the third generation to grow up in Troup.
Harris said the thing that kept her in Troup all those years was simply that “it was home.”
“It’s your hometown and home school,” Harris said, “and you just love your home.”
Now that she’s no longer at her house in Troup, one of the things Harris misses the most is taking care of the yard. She misses gardening, tending to the flowers and everything else that comes with caring for nature. Her favorite season is spring “because the budding of the trees and flowers.” She said that she loves the newness and everything waking up.
Overall, Harris says that her life has been immensely blessed with family and good health.
Harris has two children: Jan Singletary and husband Jimmy, and Tony Harris and wife Lisa. Her grandchildren are Jennifer Jennings and husband Russell; John Singletary and wife Leslie; and Mason Harris. Harris also has three great-grandchildren: Finley Jennings, Nash Jennings and Avery Singletary.