Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat


August 7, 2011

Lindsay man maintains love for community after 80 years

Pauls Valley, Oklahoma — Supporting one’s community isn’t always about how much one does, but can also be what is done with those efforts.

In fact, talk to Lindsay resident Bill Harrison and one would find out more about the people he admires instead of his own accomplishments. However, his love and support for the Garvin County locale has not gone unnoticed, something he feels is simply the right thing to do.

Outside of his family, a major area of dedication for Harrison has always been in education. He has not forgotten the pathway he tread throughout his years of school and regularly contributes back to the Lindsay School District through a position on the school board and Oklahoma State University where he earned a degree in Agronomy.

“The history and the roots are the strongest things for Bill,” said Bill’s wife, Claudean Harrison. “He continues to love and support the state.”

Other than Harrison’s time away earning said degree up through 1955 and the last two years of high school at military school in Missouri, he has always called Lindsay home, going back to his birth in 1930. Along with 21 consecutive years on the school board, he has also spent a number of years running the Harrison Gypsum Company, running the family cattle farm and various community improvements like being chairman over a flood control project.

Harrison attributes much of his attitude to the lessons of hard work, including his father who made his early life before statehood building dams and railroads as well as his mother, who was an attorney when it was not common for women. Though he did not see quite the rough go some people had during the Great Depression, things were still tough for many throughout his childhood.

“It’s a great town, friendly... especially when you know everybody,” said Harrison. “The things I felt were important to the community I donated to.”

Harrison eventually sold his share in the family gypsum company to his son Rusty and later opened Harrison Investments with his son Robert in 2002. Each of the children, including David, a veterinarian and John, an ER doctor have learned to utilize their own community ties with their own regular contributions.

Much of how Harrison has given back to the community is also a continuation of the efforts others have established along the way. His previous wife Betty Ann, who passed away in 1990, built an equally impressive legacy helping to fund and save the former train depot and was always involved in local Boy Scout efforts.

Harrison still contributes to the depot, which was recently given a new deck, and has been named in honor of Betty Ann. His wife Claudean, who spent her time as an educator and counselor for most of her career, is proud to do what she can, even if it is just to remind Bill to talk a little more about himself.

Harrison’s dedication to giving back also has reached a significant impact through his alma mater, OSU, where he has a lifetime membership in the alumni association. His contributions there are as impressive as any other from serving on the board of governors for the school’s foundation to attending events in full school colors.

Even when things get tough for Harrison, like losing a significant amount of his vision to macular degeneration recently, he does not let it stop him from continuing his compassion for his fellow man. He also is determined to get out, using his recognizable electric scooter to make runs to places like the post office.

“You’ve got to play the hand you’re dealt,” said Harrison. “You just have to keep digging.”

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