Joseph Denton Harris, III, after 96 years of a long and blessed life, entered into eternal peace on March 29, 2021 at his home in Liberty, Texas, with his family surrounding him.
Joe was born on January 25, 1925 in his family home in Dayton, Texas to Emma Dunn Harris and Joseph Denton Harris, Jr. He attended Dayton public schools until age 15, when he enrolled at Texas A&M University. In two and a half years he earned a degree in Chemical Engineering and enlisted in the United States Navy. He was stationed in San Diego, California and served as a Lieutenant during World War II. After the war, he returned to Dayton and met the love of his life, Frances Marie Sacco of Houston. They were married within three months and together they had eight children. He was the most loving, kind and patient husband and father in the world.
Joe embodied all that is good. He showed through his actions the value of hard work, integrity, devotion to his family and faith in God. All who knew Joe and all those whose lives he touched will remember him as an extraordinary man whose life made a difference in this world.
Upon returning to his hometown, he entered into the construction and development business with his father and his brother, Bobby. Joe and Bobby co-owned and operated Peoples Building Center, Pelco Construction Company, and Trico Redi-Mix, building homes and buildings across Liberty and Chambers Counties. He built and owned the Del Rey Motel in Liberty until the 1990s.
As an active, life-long member of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Liberty, Joe served on the parish council and was a board member of the school. For 40 years, he served as the organist. Joe built the current church in the 1960’s. He also served on the finance committee for the Diocese of Beaumont.
Joe was very involved in Liberty and Dayton civic affairs. He was named “Man of the Year” in 1976 by the Liberty-Dayton Chamber of Commerce. He served as a volunteer to the Dayton Fire Department for 8 years. He served on the Dayton School Board for 17 years and presided over the school board during the integration of public schools. For 50 years, he was a member and officer of the Dayton Rotary Club. He served as Little League Baseball Commissioner. In 1982, he successfully organized and led People Against a Contaminated Environment (PACE) to prevent a toxic waste site from being built in Liberty County. He was a long-time board member of First Liberty National Bank and served as director, president, and charter member of the Magnolia Ridge Country Club in Liberty.
He is preceded in death by Frances, his beloved wife of 68 years, his brother Bobby Harris, his sister Jean Tally, and his parents Joe and Emma Harris. He is survived by eight children, 21 grandchildren, 22 great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchild. His children are Dr. Joseph Denton Harris, IV and Donna Harris of Beaumont, TX, Mary Kathleen Harris of Houston, TX, Peggy Harris Lacy and Mike Lacy of Dallas, TX, Connie Harris Arnold and Dr. David Arnold of Liberty, TX, Ann Marie Harris and Pam Karter of Liberty and Houston, TX, Dr. James Mitchell Harris and Meredith Harris of Houston, TX, Matthew G. Harris and Kim Harris of Liberty, TX, Judge Julie Harris Kocurek and Kelly Kocurek of Austin, TX. His grandchildren are Joseph Haynes of Temple, TX, Dr. Lindsey Harris Massengale of Houston, TX, Kathleen Haynes Pacini of Houston, TX, Reagan Harris Fibbe of Houston, TX, Listi Arnold Sobba of Arlington, VA, Mindy Haynes Adams of San Marcos, TX, Emily Harris of Houston, TX, Clark Arnold of Houston, TX, Dr. Catherine Arnold Carothers of San Marcos, TX, Anne Lacy of Brooklyn, NY, Beth Lacy Leigh of Lexington, KY, John Arnold of Dallas, TX, Chrissy Lacy of Santa Cruz, CA, Luke Harris of Dayton, TX, Mitchell Harris of Houston, TX, David Harris of Houston, TX, Katie Harris of Liberty, TX, Matthew Harris of Houston, TX, Lizzie Harris of Liberty, TX, Will Kocurek of Austin, TX, and Mary Frances Kocurek of Austin, TX. His great-grandchildren are Sam Haynes of Atlanta, GA, Lele Pacini of Nacogdoches, TX, Dorothy Day Adams and Joan Adams of San Marcos, TX, Denton Fibbe, Finch Fibbe and Anne Cullen Fibbe of Houston, TX, Gray Banks of Houston, TX, John Lyle Leigh and Francita Louise of Leigh of Lexington, KY, George Sobba, Harris Sobba, Dave Sobba and Lila Sobba of Arlington, VA, Abby Arnold and Teal Arnold of Houston, TX, Cate Carothers, Christopher Carothers, Charlie Carothers and Ford Carothers of San Marcos, TX, Elizabeth Brown Arnold and Clark Arnold of Dallas, TX. His great-great-grandchild is Logan Johnson of Nacogdoches, TX.
Joe is also survived by many nieces, nephews, friends and relatives from near and far. The family wishes to thank friends, parishioners and clergy who offered their many prayers and made kind visits. This enriched his life in his last years.
The family is thankful for the dedication and loving care given to Joe by Brendetta Thibodeaux, Helen Caballero, Sissy Johnson, Michael Henderson, Maria Flores, Kay Ballard, Zelda Chargois, Linda Trahan, and Delila David.
Visitation will be held Monday, April 5th, 2021 from 5:00-7:00 pm at Immaculate Conception Church, 411 Milam, Liberty, Texas with the Rosary immediately following at 7 pm. Services will be held Tuesday, April 6, 2021 at 11:00 am at Immaculate Conception Church in Liberty, Texas. Masks will be required at all indoor services. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the non-profit organization: Catholic Cemetery Association of Liberty Texas/ 411 Milam/ Liberty, Texas 77575.