Dr. James Geraty Harrison, 86, passed away on December 27, 2022.
At Converse, Dr. Harrison served as Associate Professor Emeritus of Classics, Head Librarian and was Converse’s first Archivist — a role he continued part-time during his retirement. He enjoyed teaching Latin, Greek, and Classical Studies to generations of Converse students from 1970 to his retirement in 2002. A gardener in his free time, he was known to share his homemade pickles with co-workers.
A Charleston, SC native, Dr. Harrison received his undergraduate education at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill (Phi Beta Kappa), his M.A. in Classics from Harvard University, an M.S. in Library Sciences from Simmons College, and a Ph.D. in Classics from UNC Chapel Hill.
George Dean Johnson, Jr. Professor of History Emerita, Dr. Melissa Walker said Dr. Harrison was one of the first people to welcome her as she began at Converse. She was grateful for his kind, welcoming presence as a young faculty member.
The quintessential Southern gentleman, Dr. Harrison’s warm, friendly, and compassionate nature was echoed by all who knew him.
Associate Music Librarian and Teacher of Voice Wendi Arms said she loved talking with Dr. Harrison every day. “Dr. Harrison was an interesting, brilliant man,” Arms said. “I remember being exasperated with him for going on many fabulous trips and returning without taking any photos to share!”
“Dr. Harrison was an interesting, brilliant man.”Wendi Arms
Former Senior Vice President Dr. Thomas McDaniel knew Dr. Harrison and his wife well and even lived on the same block in Spartanburg. “Jim and I worked in close proximity at Converse when he was Head Librarian, and I was Dean of Arts and Sciences,” Dr. McDaniel said. “As a former Latin teacher myself, I shared his interest in that language. He served our institution well for many years as a Latin professor and librarian.”
Dr. Harrison played a major role in Mickel Library and its evolution. He was instrumental in the design and construction of a new wing in 1980, which essentially doubled the size of Mickel Library.
“He served our institution well for many years as a Latin professor and librarian.”Dr. Thomas McDaniel
Wade Woodward, Director of the Mickel Library, followed Dr. Harrison as library director in 1992, said Dr. Harrison encouraged him in his new role. “Jim was very helpful and supportive when I became library director,” Woodward said. “I was privileged to know and work with him. He and I collaborated with others on the design of the Archives and Special Collections in Mickel Library. Setting up this department was a challenging undertaking because he had to organize and index thousands of archival records.”
Dr. Harrison was so passionate about this project that he even agreed to serve as its first director, working tirelessly to organize and index thousands of documents, photographs, and other materials chronicling the history of Converse.
Dr. Beverly Hay, former Daniel Professor of Voice at Converse, summed up Dr. Harrison’s legacy in this memory she shared:
“There was a very old and very much respected lady that Jim wanted me to meet. She was wearing a lovely afternoon dress, had applied makeup for our meeting, and we spent a pleasant fifteen minutes in her home. Sometime later she died, and Jim wanted me to go with him to her funeral, even though I hardly had known her and had met her only once. As soon as we got to the church, a gentleman grabbed Jim by the elbow and insisted that we sit with the family. I felt strange, but since Jim was obviously a favorite of the deceased lady, we sat with the family.
After the service, someone again stopped Jim, and we were suddenly going to the interment. When it was over, as we headed back to the car, Jim said wistfully, ‘That story is told.’ So typical of Jim.
Dear Jim, to the bereavement of many, your story is told.”
Dr. Harrison’s family has requested that charitable donations be made to the Uplift Outreach Center of Spartanburg. If you have personal stories to share or wish to honor Dr. Harrsion in some way at Converse, please contact Kristina Pisano, Director of Annual Giving at 864.577.2045 or firstname.lastname@example.org.