Cover photo for William  Mortimer  Harrison , Jr. 's Obituary
William  Mortimer  Harrison , Jr.  Profile Photo
1937 William 2022

William Mortimer Harrison , Jr.

January 26, 1937 — August 30, 2022

William Mortimer Harrison, Jr. died this past Tuesday, August 30th at Duke Hospital of complications from a stroke suffered last week. Bill was born at Duke Hospital on January 26th, 1937, and except for brief sojourns elsewhere spent his entire life in Durham. He is survived by his wife Mary, five children (Martha, Bo, John, Anne, and David), and ten grandchildren. Bill was preceded in death by his sister Cecile, and by his grandson Nate.


Bill Harrison was distinguished by an extraordinary passion for living, and by his deep love for family and friends. A successful businessman, he believed in using his good fortune to help others, and made generous contributions to his alma mater (UNC), his long-time church (Saint Philip’s Episcopal), and to many political candidates and organizations who shared his vision for improving the lives of all citizens. At the urging of his friends Tom Midyette (then Rector at Saint Philip’s) and Joe Harvard (then Pastor at First Presbyterian Church), Bill led the fundraising effort for the construction of the Urban Ministries Center (now Urban Ministries of Durham).

Known affectionately as the “Big Moon” by his kids and their friends, Bill Harrison never met a stranger, and loved to tell a story (many of which were true, all of which he believed to be). He was extremely competitive, and got just as excited about winning a family game of hearts as he did about closing a big business deal. In good times he spent lavishly on himself and others, enjoying fine meals, Tar Heel football and basketball games all over the country, extensive international travel, a couple nice sailboats that shuttled seasonally between Beaufort, NC and the Virgin Islands, and a year living near his sister Cecile and her family in Strasbourg, France. But as much as he loved to treat dear ones to an expensive meal at “Nana’s” (his favorite restaurant), Bill was just as likely to wax rhapsodic about three chili dogs and a Diet Coke (“the best thing I ever put in my jaws”).


Bill was madly in love with Mary for all of their sixty-one years of marriage together, and their Silver Anniversary celebration in Beaufort thirty-six years ago was legendary. They delighted to entertain family and friends at their home on Devon Road, especially at their annual Christmas bash. Though they faced increasing challenges over the last few years, their love for one another never faded, and Bill was quick to tell anyone within earshot that marrying Mary was the smartest decision he ever made.


There will be a memorial celebration at the Church of the Holy Family, 200 Hayes Road, Chapel Hill at 10 am on Saturday, September 10th. All family and friends of Bill Harrison are invited to gather together to share favorite memories, a few tears if necessary, and lots of smiles. In lieu of flowers, the family would encourage loved ones to consider charitable contributions to Urban Ministries of Durham https://umdurham.org/donate/, to Reality Ministries (also Durham) https://realityministriesinc.org/donate/ , or to another organization dedicated to improving the lives of their neighbors.



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Service Schedule

Past Services

Memorial Service

Saturday, September 10, 2022

10:00 - 11:00 am (Eastern time)

Church of the Holy Family

200 Hayes Road, Chapel Hill, NC 27517

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