James Keith Harrison, age 87 years, husband, father, grandfather, plumber, singer, and above all: follower of Jesus Christ is now face-to-face with Jesus, having left this world at 4:53 a.m. on Monday, January 27, 2020 from Buchanan (Michigan) Meadows Assisted Living. His final days here were full of people who loved him, sharing stories, praying, reading scripture, and singing hymns.
Jim was born December 7, 1932 in Flint, Michigan, the oldest child of Lucille (Hoard) and Clarence “Cy” B. Harrison of Burton, Michigan. He was graduated from Bentley High School, being an energetic athlete and good student, while at the same time learning the plumbing trade from his father and uncles. He served his country in the United States Army in Korea from 1953 through 1955 as both a peacekeeper and a plumber and was honorably discharged as a Veteran of the Korean Conflict. Although never in combat, he was almost killed when a crane block fell through the roof of a transport he was operating, rendering him unconscious, and destroying the steering wheel. He made a full recovery.
He apprenticed with the United Association of Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Service Trades Union Local #370, earning his journeyman card early in his career and ultimately acquiring Master Plumber certification. He continued the family trade, reinstating Harrison’s Plumbing and Heating, Inc. in Grand Blanc, Michigan where he won many bids for commercial jobs, not because he offered the lowest bid, but because of his reputation for an honest bid. He later merged with Just Good Plumbing, Inc. of Flint, Michigan. He enjoyed working with tools, serving his customers and - as an instructor at the Mott Community College Technology Division - training young men to be good tradesmen. He retired in 1999 and relocated to Berrien Springs, Michigan. His highest trade award was the title given to him by his kids: “Superplumber.”
The most important aspect of Jim’s life was his love for and love from his personal Savior, Jesus Christ. At age 17, his gave his life to God in Christ Jesus and “was never disappointed.” Jim loved to sing and serve other people, and especially loved to sing gospel hymns and songs. He served in the church choir, as a Sunday School teacher and superintendent, as children’s church leader, and on the church board of elders, and as one of the many tradesmen who fixed stuff for the church and those in need in his community. Jim served in the church youth bicycling outings each summer, traveling as far as Mackinaw City and Niagara Falls. He was affectionately referred to by the youth as “Father Abraham.” Jim attended the Bentley Pilgrim Holiness (later Wesleyan) Church in Burton, Michigan; later the Calvary United Methodist Church in Flint, Michigan; and finally the Community Evangelical Free Church in Niles, Michigan.
In his retirement, Jim continued to serve his neighbor as a tradesman fixing all kinds of stuff, in loving his wife, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and as a member of the local VFW chapter. He was an enthusiastic supporter of conservative political causes including the “Right to Work” movement and an avid reader.
On October 26, 1957 at the Bentley Wesleyan Church he married his sweetheart Virginia “Ginny” Ruth Wallace, also of Burton, Michigan, the daughter of Charles Edgar “Ed” and Agnes Serretta Pratt. Jim and Ginny celebrated last year the remarkable sixty-second anniversary of their wedding.
Jim is survived by his wife, Virginia Harrison and their children Mark (Donna) Harrison, MD of Berrien Center, Michigan and Susan (Richard) Nivens of Goshen, Indiana; grandchildren Kristofer Nivens, Michael Nivens, David Nivens, Sarah (Nathaniel) Harrison Rhein, Eleanor (Daniel) Harrison Bliese, Annalise (Aaron) Harrison Highley, Matthew (Oly’Anna) Harrison, Pvt. Luke Harrison (US Army) and his future daughter-in-law, Joy Winston of Seattle, Washington; great-grandchildren: Cyprian, Gwendolyn, Beatrix, Frederick, Benedict, and two expected in April of 2020; and Jim’s siblings David (Carol) Harrison of Sage Lake, Michigan and Patricia (Glen) Clouse of Erwin, Tennessee and several nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents, his brother Kenneth Harrison, and sadly by infant daughters, Rebecca and Anne, and his two-year-old grandson Paul Harrison with whom he is now reunited.
The funeral service for Jim Harrison will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, February 1, 2020 at the Community Evangelical Church, 120 East Bertrand Road in Niles with Pastor Matthew A. Hickok of the church officiating assisted by Pastor Andy Jacobs. The family will receive relatives and friends at the church on Saturday beginning at 10:00 a.m. Committal services will be held privately on Saturday afternoon at the Union Cemetery in Berrien Center, Michigan.
Contributions in memory of Jim may be made to the Wycliffe Bible Translators, 11221 John Wycliffe Boulevard, Orlando, Florida, 32832, https://www.wycliffe.org/; or to The Voice of the Martyrs, 1815 Southeast Bison Road, Bartlesville, Oklahoma, 74006, https://www.persecution.com/. Arrangements were made at the Halbritter-Wickens Funeral Home in Niles. Online condolences may be left at:
Jim’s manner was naturally friendly, fatherly, and wise, and he mixed those attributes to lovingly encourage others to think (with a sparkle in his eye). Whether supporting “Right to Work” while paying union dues, or being the original “conversation starter” with an intriguing opening question, his goal was always to eventually share from his personal testimony and his vast collection of memorized scripture (and hymn lyrics) about the love of Jesus.
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