A steadfast devotion to education, compassion and good humor underscored Dr. Harris' professional career in Obstetrics, Gynecology and Maternal-Fetal Medicine. Best known for his indefatigable efforts to improve women's health care in Alabama, and by whatever means available, Dr. Harris influenced the careers of his colleagues, MFM fellows, Ob/Gyn residents-in-training and medical students. By educating all levels of providers, emphasizing evidence-based practice guidelines, and even reaching our State's health care political leadership, his labors and their results are still widely appreciated; it is dubious that, even 20 years since his retirement from clinical practice, there is no Ob/Gyn physician more widely known and respected in Alabama.
Recruited by our former chairman, the late Charles E. Flowers, Dr. Harris joined our medical school faculty in 1974 and taught obstetrics and gynecology at our clinical campuses in Tuscaloosa and Huntsville before he settled here in Birmingham in 1978. In 1979, at the age 60, he sat for and passed his MFM oral subspecialty examination, a prelude to his continuing scientific accomplishments and the publication of his numerous research studies. Outside his professional career, Dr. Harris was the most avid reader imaginable and especially enjoyed Civil War history. Endowed with an extraordinary memory and outstanding analytic skills, he was able to educate his friends and colleagues in almost any area of the arts and sciences, with an uncanny ability to maintain the most humble, affable and entertaining demeanor.
In 1999 UAB recognized his far-reaching accomplishments and the continuing devotion of his trainees by creating a Professorship in his name. At our State ACOG meeting in 2009, he was the first inductee into the Alabama Legends, Physician's "Hall of Fame." His career now sets the standard against which all future candidates will be evaluated.
Formerly of Michigan, Boston and New York, Dr. Harris spent the last half of his long and productive life in Alabama where we enjoyed his greatest professional influence and he enjoyed all of his post-retirement years. As long as I’d known him, whenever anyone asked Dr. Harris where he was from, he would say with great pride, “I’m from Alabama!”
Dr. Harris passed away in peace at his home at the age of 94. He is survived by sons, William and Glenn, daughter, Betsy, and 6 grandchildren. His funeral was held on September 4th, 2013 at the Cathedral Church of the Advent in Birmingham, where Drs. John Hauth and Ed Partridge gave exceptional eulogies in his memory. He was interred at the Alabama National Cemetery in Montevallo. He will be greatly missed.
Biographical Summary provided by Dr. John Owen, Bruce A. Harris Professor of ObGyn
Nancy B. Honea, firstname.lastname@example.org, (770) 469-4616. Photography by Robert Hill.