The sweet and beautiful life of Ida Nell Harris came to a close on Wednesday, February 5, 2020. Ida has left indelible memories that will be cherished forever. She was born on February 22, 1945 in Hampton, Arkansas to the union of J. T. and Naomi Lee Ward Reed.
Family played a key role in the development and shaping of her life. Ida accepted Christ as her Lord and Savior as a little girl. She was baptized in Morton, Mississippi at Christian Triumph Baptist Church. From the age ten she was raised by her grandparents, Marshall and Glovie Ward, in Morton, Mississippi. While in Mississippi she attended Betty May Jack School.
She returned to Hampton, Arkansas at the age of 15 and was a 1963 graduate of McRae High School in Hampton, Arkansas. She graduated from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff College (formerly AM&N) in 1967, where she received a B. A. degree in English Language Arts. She received a M. A. degree in English Language Arts from Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. She excelled as a student, and was committed to achieving her educational goals.
During her early years in Arkadelphia she united with Greater Pleasant Hill Baptist Church under the pastorate of Rev. A.W. Terry. She served as an usher. She later met and married Samuel Harris and to this union two children were born, Jeremy and Martha. Ida then became a member of New Bethel Baptist Church. She served as a deaconess, mother of the church, youth leader, Sunday school teacher, choir member, church clerk, mission ministry secretary, and assisted with the culinary ministry. Her favorite song was “This Little Light of Mine”. She was a stalwart leader and worked on many local and district committees. She served as the Vice President of the Women’s Department of the Southwest District Association.
Ida became a dedicated member of the Order of Eastern Star and served as past Senior District Deputy Grand Matron of District 5 and past Worthy Matron for Universal Evergreen Verbena No. 192. She loved her chapter, OES sisters and Masonic brothers.
Ida’s teaching career of over 41 years was a true asset to the Arkadelphia Public School District. She was a passionate educator and believed that planting the seed early made the greatest impact in a child’s learning. She will be remembered by her students for saying “redeem yourself.” Once the student correctly recovered, she would say “redemptive.” It was always a pleasure to see former students and coworkers from all her years of teaching. Each encounter became a treasured memory added to the rest that were kept close to her heart.
A true servant in every aspect of the word, Ida did not mind lending her time, talent and treasures to many people, causes, and organizations. She was a member of the Sunshine Service Club, the Democratic Party and volunteered as an election poll worker.
She enjoyed reading, shopping, traveling and sports. During family reunions, her energy was like a magnet that drew smiles and ignited the flames of joy and excitement in all around her.
Of all the notable titles and respected positions, she was a supportive sweet mother, even sweeter grandmother, proud aunt and a true friend. She always aimed to give the best she had, whether it be time, advice, or a soft hug; you knew you could depend on her to be authentic, diplomatic, and encouraging. She left an indelible imprint on the hearts and minds of many young children and adults who learned from her and aspired greater positions because of her. She managed her life as an example of how greatness is really achieved.
She had a calm sweet spirit, yet she asserted herself for matters that she felt were important. Her selflessness, sense of humor, and love for family, students, and friends will be remembered by all who knew her well.
She was preceded in death by her parents, a sister, Jo Nell Preston and two brothers, Jessie Lee Cook and Curtis Cook.
Her life was full and she was truly sincere in heart. The memory of her existence will forever be woven into the lives of those who were blessed to know Ida N. Harris. She leaves her husband, Samuel Harris; her children, Jeremy (Leah) Harris of Arkadelphia and Martha Harris of Arkadelphia; four grandchildren, Max Harris, Anthony Harris, Shelby Harris and Naomy Harris; her sisters, Patricia Owens of Fordyce, AR and Jimmie Nell Johnson of Hampton, AR; her brothers, M.G. Cook of Thornton, AR, Steve Cook of Pine Bluff, AR, David Cook of Capital Heights, MD and James Ashley of Hampton, AR. She also leaves a host of cousins, nieces, nephews, other relatives, friends and the New Bethel Baptist Church family.
Masonic Pallbearers will be WM Tracy Ford | PM Dione Hopson | District Deputy Reginald McElroy | WM Jerry Harvell Bro. Montreal Shields | Bro. Kenneth Jones | Bro. Dave Collins and Bro. David Muldrew. Honorary Pallbearers will be Ollie Buckley | Derrick Johnson | Ricky Govan | Bernard Washington | Aubrey Hill | Steve Cook | David Cook | Benjamin F. Harris and Joe Johnson.
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