Robert Harrison Booth passed away on December 1, 2014, at Hillcrest Convalescent Center, after a long period of declining health. He was 82 years old.
Mr. Booth was born on October 30, 1932 in Wichita, KS. The son of the late Arch N. Booth and the late Wilma Harrison Booth, he spent his early years in Kansas before moving with his family to Washington, DC, when his father took a position at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. After graduating from Woodrow Wilson High School in Washington, DC, he came to North Carolina to attend Duke University. At Duke, he was a loyal member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity and participated in Air Force ROTC. Upon graduation in 1954, he married the late Barbara DeLapp Booth—whom he had met during his junior year—and began his period of service in the United States Air Force. Later, he joined the Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA), and then the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce. In 1965, he returned to Durham to take the helm of the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce, retiring in 1997. A tireless and enthusiastic advocate for his adopted hometown of Durham, he was instrumental in launching several successful campaigns, including the City of Medicine program and the New Durham I and II programs. He was particularly proud of his role in helping to bring the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics to Durham. In 1998, he received the Durham Chamber of Commerce Civic Honor Award in recognition of his many contributions.
Outside of work, Mr. Booth was an active member of the Durham community. He served on the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center’s citizens’ advisory council, and was a member of the Duke-Durham Alumni Association and a founding member of the Congregation at Duke Chapel. One of his most important affiliations was with the Durham Rotary Club, where he served as president and was a Paul Harris Fellow.
Mr. Booth was preceded in death by his wife of 49 years, Barbara DeLapp Booth; his son, Robert Harrison Booth, Jr.; and his sister, Joan Booth Kelly. He is survived by his daughter, Susan Booth VanSant, and his granddaughter, Cameron VanSant, both of Durham, NC; his brother, Donald Booth, and wife, Jane, of Laingsburg, MI; his brothers-in-law, John Kelly, of Chapel Hill, NC, and Sim DeLapp, Jr., and wife, Michelle, of Lexington, NC; his daughter-in-law, Susan Forte Booth, of Durham, NC; and several nieces and nephews.
Funeral services will be private. Interment will take place at Old Mission/Wichita Park Cemetery in Wichita, Kansas. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Rotary Foundation, C/O The Durham Rotary Club, Box 51572, Durham NC 27717. The Booth family is under the care of Hall-Wynne Funeral Service, Durham. Online condolences at www.hallwynne.com.