Harris Wakefield Asbury, Sr. ’53

Harris Wakefield Asbury, Sr., 85, of Opelika, passed away Thursday, January 5, 2017, following a brief illness.

A Celebration of Life service will be held at First United Methodist Church of Opelika at 1:00 p.m. CST on Saturday, January 7, with The Rev. Dr. Tim Thompson and The Rev. Dr. Randy Woodham officiating. A reception for family and friends will immediately follow the service in the fellowship hall.

Harris was born on D-Day, June 6, 1931, in Elberton, GA, the second son born to Alice “Sammy” and Frank Logan Asbury.

The family moved often with the textile industry during Harris’s life, landing in Opelika in 1944. It was there that he met and began dating Anna Cowart Salter. Harris lettered in football, basketball and baseball as an Opelika High School Bulldog.

Following graduation from OHS in 1949, Harris attended Davidson College before transferring to Emory University in Atlanta in 1950 where he played tennis and served as president of Kappa Alpha Fraternity and the Arnold Air Society. He graduated from Emory in 1953 with a degree in history. He joined the U.S. Air Force as a lieutenant and was based in Antigo, Wisconsin.

In October 1954, Harris traveled to Atlanta for a Georgia Tech football game, and Anna asked him to marry her; they were married six weeks later on December 18, 1954, at First United Methodist Church in Opelika.

After being honorably discharged from the USAF in the fall of 1955, the couple moved from Wisconsin to Atlanta where they lived until early 1960 when they returned to Opelika and Harris joined Alabama Office Supply, Co.

He took the reins of AOS in the late 60s; and although he handed the business over to his son, Wake, in the mid-80s, he continued to have a daily presence at the store until October, 2015.

Harris was an avid golfer, a member of Saugahatchee Country Club for many years and was very involved in the Opelika community. He coached Little League baseball, served as the local president of Kiwanis Club (1973-74), lieutenant governor of the Alabama District of Kiwanis International (1978-79), president of the Opelika Chamber of Commerce (1974), president of the Opelika Downtown Business Association (1976-77) and presided over many boards and committees at First United Methodist Church, where he was named Man of the Year in 1967.

He taught Sunday School classes at FUMC for more than 40 years, at least 25 of those teaching high school seniors. He was a scholar on the four Gospels, James and the Apostle Paul. Some who had Harris as a teacher credit him with teaching them everything they know about the Bible.

Harris was the ultimate “people person” with a genuine love for people. He went out of his way to help anybody he could in any way he could. He was a peacemaker who was very slow to anger and quick to forgive. He had a great sense of humor, loved to laugh, enjoyed a good story and/or joke and was a master at telling both.

He enjoyed being a part of several morning coffee clubs, the Cowboys and The Hustlers at SCC. He loved spending time with his numerous friends of all generations and walks of life, and especially with his family.

Harris was preceded in death by his parents; his sister, Alice Asbury Stone, and his brother, Frank L. Asbury, Jr.

He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Anna; son and daughter-in-law, Wake (H. Wakefield Jr.) and Joan (Odom) Asbury; and daughter Kate Asbury Larkin, all of Opelika; six grandchildren, Tyler and Will Grogan and Field (H. Wakefield III) and Holly Asbury of Atlanta, Anna Asbury Larkin of Arlington, VA, Bo Larkin, Lucas Asbury, and Duncan Asbury, all of Auburn; and two great-grandsons, William Stark Grogan, Jr., and Bascom Asbury Grogan, both of Atlanta.

The family would like to thank all their friends for their incredible support, especially, Bill Garrett, Bob Patton, David Canon, Gary Loper, Tonya Greathouse of Loving Hands Senior Care and her staff (Ahmed, Erica, Jessica, Diane, Sandra, Lexi and Stephen) and Compassus Hospice Care.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests a contribution be made to First United Methodist Church of Opelika (702 Avenue A, Opelika, AL 36801), the East Alabama Medical Center Foundation (2000 Pepperell Pkwy., Opelika, AL 36801) or any charity that assists those who need a helping hand.

Jeffcoat-Trant Funeral Home & Crematory is handling arrangements. www.jeffcoattrant.com

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