Ferriday remembers Alderman Jerome Harris

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 25, 2010

FERRIDAY — Ferriday Alderman Jerome Harris was remembered Wednesday as a man who stuck to his guns, cared deeply about children and always had the best interests of his hometown at heart.

Harris died at his home Tuesday after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 61.

Mayor Glen McGlothin said he would remember Harris as a friend who was easy to work with.

“The work with Jerome was easy because Jerome was easy,” McGlothin said.

“We will miss him mainly because he was one of those people who really cared about Ferriday. He was very adamant about Ferriday.”

The Rev. Justin Conner, who said he and Harris became friends after they found themselves on opposite sides of a political campaign, said Harris always stood by his principles.

“Most of the years he was sitting on the council, he would go against the grain,” Conner said. “He didn’t care if the mayor didn’t like it, he didn’t care if I didn’t like it, he wanted to take care of the people of Ferriday.”

His firm-mindedness was a characteristic that Alderwoman Gloria Lloyd remembered about Harris.

“If he put it in his mind that that was what he wanted, there wasn’t anybody who was going to change his mind.”

A water plant operator for the town before he was elected, the most important issue the town faced for Harris was the water system, Lloyd said.

“I had an opportunity to talk to him the week before last, and he was asking about the town, how it was doing, and I told him not to worry about the town and to get well,” Lloyd said. “That’s what he was asking about, the water plant.”

Former Alderman Billy Rucker first met Harris when he was a town employee, but he said he would also remember him as an alderman who was determined to see the town move forward.

“He listened, he was always open to both sides, and if he thought he was right he would stick to it,” Rucker said. “I always got along with him, and I respected his decisions as an alderman. He will be missed in his district and in the Town of Ferriday.”

In addition to being an alderman, Harris had a soft spot in his heart for the children of the town, and Conner said he would volunteer with the youth sports programs to work with the children.

“He had a concern about the kids, and he had a heart to see that Ferriday be able to get back to what it was when he grew up,” Conner said.

Before his retirement last year because of his health, Harris was employed by the Concordia Parish School District, and Superintendent Loretta Blankenstein said one of his greatest assets was that Harris cared for the children.

“When I was a principal in Ferriday, he would come by and check on some of the children he knew from the neighborhood who he felt might not have a strong father figure,” Blankenstein said.

And while he was officially designated as a plumber for the school district, Harris wore a lot of hats, she said.

“He was an all-around person who would do what needed to be done” she said. “Whatever was needed, he would step up to the plate and help out.

“He will be very much missed.”

Funeral plans for Harris have not yet been finalized.

Conner said a vehicle in the Saturday Catahoula-Concordia Parish NAACP Black History parade has been reserved in his honor, and Harris will be the honorary grand marshal.