Roosevelt R. “Butch” Harris Sr., a former grocery clerk and cashier who later had a second career as a long-distance truck driver and was active in his church, died of congestive heart failure on 10 April at his home in Northwood. He was 74 years old.
“Butch was definitely a very spiritual person and a Bible student and was very active in the church until his health started to fail. He was ready to go home and he was saved,” Vincent said. Edwards, another member and elder of the Full Gospel True Mission Church.
“He was down to earth and a good family man. He was someone you wanted to be with and was easy to talk to. He was always optimistic, friendly.
Roosevelt Raymond Harris Sr., son of Callie Marie Marshall Jenkins, who worked at a dry cleaning establishment, was born in Baltimore and raised on Montford and McKeen Avenues.
He attended the city’s public schools and later dropped out of Samuel Lemmel High School when he was in eighth grade, but that didn’t quench Mr. Harris’ dream of graduating from high school. At 49, he obtained his GED diploma.
In 1964, he began a 21-year career as a member of the Retail Clerks Union, where he worked as a grocery clerk and cashier for the Food Fair, Food-A-Rama and Safeway grocery chains.
When some stores closed, Mr. Harris began a second career in 1986, when he attended tractor-trailer driving school, obtained a commercial driver’s license and began driving locally for Frank A. Serio & Sons, a Baltimore trucking company.
For more than two decades, Mr. Harris, who later became a long-distance truck driver, criss-crossed the country driving for JB Hunt, Cowan, Superior and Broadway trucking companies, while enjoying the ever-changing natural beauty mountains, valleys, deserts and rivers.
“As a lover of geography, he regularly sent postcards to his family, pointing out specific points of interest on his travels,” according to a biographical profile submitted by his family. “He also sent postcards directly to his children’s classrooms, which teachers shared with students. They learned geography through his travels and different points of interest.
When company policy permitted, he would take his wife or children on his motorized rides, which they “really enjoyed”, family members said.
Mr. Harris retired in 2012, said his wife of 57, former Naon T. Pitts, a retired paralegal.
Deeply religious, Mr. Harris became interested in Bible study and began memorizing scriptures when he was a teenager. In 2002, he received his ministerial license from the Pentecostal Churches of the Apostolic Faith, which spurred his desire to teach.
As a member of Full Gospel True Mission Church, Mr. Harris has served on the board of trustees, served as a soloist with the choir, taught Sunday school, and been an active member of the fellowship.
“He soon realized that his ministry would be individual or in small groups as he traveled across the states, and not confined to a pulpit,” according to the profile. “Roosevelt was not a complicated man, but his life presented him with many challenges, which he overcame. He had the ability to go beyond race, religious beliefs and politics when it came to making friends.
Family members said Mr. Harris’ network of friends included Muslims, Black Israelites, Native Americans, East Indians, Whites, Blacks, Jews, Africans, Asians, Hispanics and Italians.
When working in supermarkets, Mr Harris, a loud speaker, would often issue ‘greetings’ to colleagues, family members said.
“In one such session, a member of the Ku Klux Klan, who worked with him, said, ‘I can’t believe I’m here listening to you talk, and I can’t even move'” , according to The Profile. “He was able to sit and talk with them, and never offend or be offended.”
“Butch was a really smart, very charismatic guy,” Nathan Pitts, a brother-in-law, a former Baltimore Sun newsroom staffer and president of the deacons at Greater St. John Baptist Church told Turner. Station. “He was carefree and a people person. You know the old saying, Butch has never met a stranger or a stranger he hasn’t met before.
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Mr. Pitts added: “He was knowledgeable about the Bible and he would call me and we would talk about the corresponding scriptures and their connection.
Mr Harris was a big fan of gospel music and some of his favorite bands or singers included The Winans, Walter Hawkins, Tramaine Hawkins and Wintley Phipps. Other musical interests included country, rhythm and blues, rock ‘n’ roll and opera, his favorite singer being Luciano Pavarotti.
Mr. Harris was also an Orioles and Ravens fan and was fluent when it came to quoting baseball stats. He also enjoyed playing cards, building models, drawing and model railroading.
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A devoted family man, Mr Harris helped with homework and school projects and never missed a birth, graduation or any other important moment, and was extremely proud that his five children all graduated from college, said family members.
“Butch was a wonderful father and the love of my sister’s life,” Mr Pitts said.
Mr Harris’ funeral will be held at 11 a.m. on Wednesday at the Huber Memorial Church of the Huber Community Life Center at 5700 Loch Raven Boulevard in Ramblewood.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Harris is survived by three sons, Roosevelt R. Harris Jr. of Baltimore, Armahn Harris of Joppa, and Raymond Harris of Triangle, Virginia; two daughters, Michal Thornton of Aberdeen and Shannon Paige of Richmond, Virginia; his mother, Callie Marie Marshall Jenkins of Baltimore; one brother, James Harris of North Carolina; 16 grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews.