JONATHAN MAYO HARRIS, 85, passed away in South Bend, Indiana, after an extended battle with Alzheimer's. He is survived by two sisters, Nimbilasha Cushing and Rosemarie Harris, his daughter, Crystal Nelson of St. Louis, MO; grandchildren, Alfred III (Kristin) Nelson of St. Louis, MO, Chloe, Jonathan and Christina; and three great-grandchildren, Gabriel, Miles and Olivia. Also left to cherish his memory are a host of nieces, nephews and special cousins, Steve and Eddy; as well as numerous cousins and friends.
In 1948, Jonathan's parents moved the family from a small town in Western Tennessee to St. Louis, Missouri, where he remained until the summer of 2017.
He is remembered as a man of many virtues, including his love for God, family and country. He was the second of nine children born to Otis and Rosa Lee Harris. Two children died as infants, and Jonathan spent the rest of his life being a big brother to those who lived. An example of this: having completed one term in the Army, he reenlisted during the Korean War to earn a reup bonus of $1800. Jonathan kept $200 for himself and gave the rest to his father to help take care of his younger siblings.
Jonathan was an impressive man - tall, slim, quick to smile, glad to talk. His kind eyes always offered encouragement. His life was not without challenges, but his spirit was indomitable. He grew up amid pervasive segregation but worked toward the day the line between races would be erased. He was the first African American in the state of Missouri to be inducted, after a long battle, to the Sons of the American Revolution. Jonathan was a voracious reader who wanted to pass this avocation along to everyone he knew. In middle age, he received a full ride to Brandeis University where, at the age of 44, he earned a B.A. Degree. His love was history, especially family history, but he was well versed in many fields. He never met a stranger and strangers never forgot him. His favorite word – Fantastic! He used it countless times, not while speaking about himself, but rather as the heartfelt response to an accomplishment of the younger members of his family.
He drew his last breath with his sisters holding his hands without ever taking his eyes off them. It was as though he was trying to make sure his sisters would be okay. Jonathan Mayo Harris, we will miss you.
A prayer service for Jonathan will be held at 6:30 pm Thursday, May 16, 2019 in the Palmer Funeral Home – Hickey Chapel, 17131 Cleveland Road, South Bend. Rev. Brian Durand, of Clay Church, will officiate. Military graveside services will be held at a later date in Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, St. Louis, MO. Friends may visit with the family from 5:00 pm until service time on Thursday in the funeral home.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Jonathan's memory to Wedgewood Pines Assisted Living, 50771 Hollyhock Road, South Bend, IN 46637.
Online condolences may be left for the Harris family at www.palmerfuneralhomes.com
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