Friends and family honor Lee County Coroner Bill Harris during memorial service

Published: Jul. 6, 2022 at 11:32 AM EDT
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OPELIKA, Ala. (WTVM) - It was a goodbye for a longtime public servant in east Alabama who touched so many. People gathered together Tuesday evening to mourn the loss of Lee County Coroner Bill Harris at his homegoing service in Opelika.

Many say Harris was extremely passionate about his job. His dedication and big heart are why many say they’ll miss this man who impacted a lot of lives.

Lee County Coroner Bill Harris was more than a familiar face around east Alabama. Before his funeral Tuesday evening in Opelika, his oldest stepson, Drew Weaver, talked about his dedication to a difficult job, which included being coroner during the 2019 Beauregard tornadoes that claimed 23 lives.

“He just loved his work. You know, many times he’d go out late at night on the calls without calling deputies. So always taking calls we were off on vacation and things like that,” said his oldest stepson, Drew Weaver.

Harris worked over 30 years in the Lee County Coroner’s Office. He also served as a paramedic supervisor with East Alabama Medical Center’s Emergency Medical Services before retiring from that job in 2016.

Harris died Wednesday while relaxing at his favorite place - the beach.

“He wanted to go down the beach with my mom one last time, went down there with her and my sister and was there with them when he passed and, you know, I can’t think of anything he’d rather have,” added Weaver.

His death comes after he was recently diagnosed with throat cancer.

“Unfortunately, I think the treatments just kind of took a toll on his body at his age and he just didn’t have anything left I think there towards the end,” said Weaver.

Many say while alive, he had a huge impact on others, as they dealt with the deaths of their loved ones.

“Bill was a very good friend. He was a very good coworker but he was more of a friend and he was very passionate about his work,” said East Alabama Medical Center’s Operations Manager for Emergency Medical Services, Austin Bayles. Bayles says he worked with Harris for 18 years.

Another longtime friend and coworker of Harris, Mike Carroll, began tearing up, saying, “I miss him. I mean I had his personal number. Could call him anytime I wanted. Just a good guy.”

“If Bill’s going to be known for anything, it’s going to be for his charity, his work with the people. But I remember him for something totally different -- he loved his family more than anything and it showed and everything he did,” said Steve Tucker, who’s known Harris since high school.

News Leader 9′s Ahniaelyah Spraggs also spoke to others in law enforcement about Harris’ impact. Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones says Harris set the bar for how other coroners should be across Alabama. A state trooper told Spraggs he thought the world of him.

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