South press box named for Harris

Rick Wagner • Updated Jan 18, 2016 at 11:34 AM

KINGSPORT — Larry Harris has been the booming voice of Sullivan South Rebel football since the school opened in the fall of 1980.

More than 35 years later, a time frame that also included 24 years on the Sullivan County Board of Education and two stints as chairman for Harris, that panel on Jan. 11 voted 7-0 to name the press box at South for him.

The resolution passed on a motion by Vice Chairman Jack Bales, who served with Harris on the BOE, and a second by Randall Jones.

“I’ve served over a third of my life on the school board,” Harris said in a statement at the end of a March 2010 BOE work session, a statement that still holds true almost six years later. 

In an interview Thursday, Harris said he had no idea the press box was to be named for him, saying that he used to joke one day that urinals would be named for him and his football spotter.

“I hadn’t heard anything about it,” said Harris, who was the voice of Rebel baseball about 10 years before giving that up. “Generally, they get permission and then tell you.” 

Director of Schools Evelyn Rafalowski said the BOE’s Facilities Committee earlier in the day recommended the naming, which was requested in a Nov. 17 letter from South Principal Greg Harvey. The note said 10-inch letters would be placed on the outside wall of the press box facing the concession stand on the home side of Carl Matherly Stadium, which is home to John Compton Field. The school will pay the $250 cost of the letters but requested the Maintenance Department install them.

Harvey wrote that the request was from the athletic boosters of South and the communities of Colonial Heights and Sullivan Gardens, which South serves.

“I am writing to request that the press box in Carl Matherly Stadium be named in honor of Larry Harris, the longtime ‘voice of the Rebels,’ ” Harvey wrote of the school’s first and only public address system announcer. “Mr. Harris has announced the football and basketball games since the school opened in 1980. Additionally, Mr. Harris served the South community as a member of the Sullivan County Board of Education for many years. Graduation is another event that would not be the same without the booming voice of Larry Harris announcing the graduates as they march across the stage.

“He has always been a strong supporter of Sullivan South.”

Harris ‎is a senior account manager at Cumulus Broadcasting Tri-Cities, and his voice is heard on radio commercials on Cumulus stations, including WQUT. He has lived in the Colonial Heights community for more than 50 years, coached baseball, football and basketball for many years, officiated at sports events and was lead singer for The Reflections, a local band, for 22 years.

He said he plans to continue his football and basketball work at South.

Harris, who is 67, began his service on the BOE in 1986 at age 38, serving two six-year terms and then three four-year terms for a total of 24 years, and he was twice chairman. He and wife Kathy have been married 48 years.

Harris, who worked as a real estate agency owner/broker for more than 21 years and a broker/agent for almost two years, earned a bachelor’s degree in business and broadcasting from East Tennessee State University in 1971 and has three grown children and seven grandchildren.


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