John Harrison ’84, Director of Institutional Advancement, Dies

John D. Harrison ’84, died on Nov.  22, 2020, after courageously battling the life-long effects of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and resulting kidney disease. He was 55.

A graduate of Mercer University, he worked as a free-lance television producer from 1990-97, splitting his time between London and the U.S. covering Wimbledon, the French Open, and the NFL.  He founded and served as the director of business development for a software company before entering professional fundraising as director of annual giving and alumni development at Wesleyan School in Norcross, Ga.  In 2008, he was named the senior director of development for the Georgia State University College of Law.  

A recipient of Baylor’s 2008 Distinguished Service Award, he was the Atlanta representative to Baylor’s alumni board from 2004-07, helped organize numerous events in Atlanta, and coordinated his 20-year class reunion.  In 2017, he was named Baylor’s director of major gifts and became director of institutional advancement in 2018.

“John Harrison was an inspirational charismatic Baylor figure.  He raised a lot of money for the school but even more friends,” said Matt Lewis ’74, chief advancement officer for Baylor.  “There’s a big hole in the Baylor heart, and we’ve suffered a huge loss to Baylor’s advancement team.”

John’s family and the thousands of friends he regarded as family knew him as a faithful fighter, facing adverse health issues with a constant positive attitude and indescribable sense of humor. Lesser men would have been despondent when confronting these challenges. John chose to be a beacon of light and purveyor of joy for all who were blessed to know him. Being with John was a lesson in how to embrace life’s obstacles with faith and humility. John’s words were profound, humorous and at times, irreverent. It is impossible to think of this gentle giant without smiling. 

John is survived by his wife, Kerrie, and daughter, Beth ’19.  He is also survived by his parents, Dr. and Mrs. Charles E. Harrison, Jr, his brothers, Chase Harrison and Ponder Harrison (Judy), his mother-in-law, Louise Lupica, his four nephews, Charlie (Kemper), Jamie, Beau and Ladd Harrison, and his niece, Wendy Harrison. He was predeceased by his sister, Elizabeth Dumas Harrison.

Due to COVID restrictions, the family held a private memorial service at Baylor. Plans for a future celebration of John’s life for his many friends will be forthcoming. Gifts in John’s memory can be made to the Baylor School here.


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