Friends and colleagues remember Commissioner Bob Harrison

MADISON COUNTY, Ala. -- On Wednesday Madison County celebrated the life and legacy of Commissioner Bob Harrison. He passed away Tuesday night after a battle with cancer. Harrison had been serving as District 6's commissioner, a position he held since 2004.

"Bob Harrison was committed to serving the people of District 6. He was a man of integrity, very smart, and I'm very proud to say that he was my friend," said Commissioner Roger Jones.

The seat left by Commissioner Harrison is an immense loss that will be felt by the entire commission, particularly by the man who sat next to him for the past six years.

"He loved to laugh, loved to have a good time, but he was a true community leader for his people. He worked tirelessly for them, he represented them well, he worked hard to get what his neighborhood, what his district needed," explained Commissioner Phil Vandiver.

Commissioner Vandiver represents District 4. He said Commissioner Harrison was always fighting for his people, a group that includes District 6, but also many others.

"He was a friend, that's the biggest thing I think people need to remember about Bob. He wanted to be your friend and he truly was," said Vandiver.

Former Madison County Attorney Julian Butler said Harrison exemplified the saying "Don't ever forget where you came from, who sent you, and why you're there." As he explains it, "He [Harrison] never forgot the people of his district. He never forgot why they sent him, and he never forgot why he was there."

Harrison leaves behind many legacies, but for Butler, it was his commitment to the people that sticks out.

"He pushed programs and was interested in individual young people. I think his dedication to education will be one of his lasting legacies," said Butler.

In the days ahead, Commissioner Vandiver said," He was a true friend to me, if I needed something he'd be there for us. If his family needs something, we're going to be there for them."

Commissioner Harrison's passing is a loss to those closest to him, but also to the county as a whole, as explained by friend and former colleague Missy Ming Smith.

"I think he's left this world in better hands, and a better place, for many people that he didn't even know personally," she said.

She remembers Harrison as a man with a great sense of humor, but also a resilience and passion for his community.

"He always tried to figure it out, and in most cases he did. And did something about it, he was also a man of action," she said.

Judge Lynn Sherrod has known Commissioner Harrison for more than 40 years. She said he leaves behind a tremendous legacy, among the adult drug court which they worked on together, but also his other endeavors.

"Of course the Wellness Center will be the monument that will stand in his name, but he will be known as Commissioner Bob, is what most people will say," she explained.

And for District 6, Commissioner Bob was, "An advocate for the people that lived in that district, he was an advocate for the downtrodden, and he was certainly an advocate for those that could not speak for themselves," said Judge Sherrod.

She said north Huntsville grew enormously under his leadership, and he will truly be missed.

"I do not know who can fill his shoes, and not just because he had big feet, but who can fill the shoes to bring to the District 6 what has been there before," said Judge Sherrod.