Harris celebrates life daily

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 15, 2002

Sharon Rose Harris’ future must have been pre-determined by her name and her sassy-sweet attitude in life. Named for the brightly colored Rose of Sharon, Harris lives up to that name with brilliant conversation, a light-hearted attitude and plenty of quick quips. However, as lighthearted and comedic as she is, Harris can get deadly serious and down to business in a heartbeat when it comes to the youths in the country or &uot;homeland defense.&uot;

Part-time Army Reserve Instructor, part-time businesswoman, but full-time mom is how Harris sees her life. She’s devoted to God, her family, her business, and the military, but she is never satisfied with status quo. She’s always in pursuit of excellence in her personal morals and beliefs, her business dealings and her children.

She is also quick to point out that while she had a great deal to do with the successes she’s seen in life, including her children, her husband Harold made it all possible. She said marriage takes a lot of work and sometimes they have had to &uot;really work&uot; at keeping things together.

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&uot;If it weren’t for Harold, I could never have accomplished the things I’ve done,&uot; said Harris. &uot;He’s made it possible for me to go for my two weeks in the summer for the Reserves and all the rest of the meetings, and I’ve had to attend business meetings and conventions for my business. He’s been at home, taking care of home and children for me, and enabling me to serve my country while keeping my home and family together in one place.&uot;

Harris also noted that strength for their marriage was learned early on when &uot;everywhere&uot; they applied for start-up money for her business, Power of Flowers, banks and loan companies refused to back them.

&uot;They just wouldn’t give us the money,&uot; said Harris. &uot;We did it on our own. No loan… and we made it. That made me strong and we faced life’s challenges ever since and we’re still here and still together.&uot;

As for her business acumen, Harris has operated Power of Flowers for the past 30-years; however, she was a teacher prior to her first experience in re-inventing herself.

&uot;I was a teacher in Lynchburg Public Schools for six years,&uot; said Harris. &uot;I came to Suffolk after deciding that I wanted to leave teaching and I started my florist. That was back in the 60’s when everything was some type of &uot;power,&uot; and I wanted to name my shop &uot;Flower Power,&uot; but my son, Harold, said I couldn’t do that because it sounded too militant. So, we called it Power of Flowers because I do believe flowers hold a powerful place in our lives and they can get across what we are feeling.&uot;

Harris’ son is a member of the Army Reserves and serving at Ft. Stewart, Ga., and he’s always played a major part in her life, as have all the children. She was a strict parent, demanding the best from her children while loving them enough that they chose to follow in their mom’s footsteps. She’s quick to speak about any of her children, especially Ryan, her granddaughter who is a senior at Lakeland High School. Stepsons Jermain and Tony are also students at Lakeland, a junior and senior respectively. Her daughter, Eileen, is also walking in mom’s footsteps, serving the Navy and currently stationed at Camp Lejeune.

Even though Harris has an extensive military career in the Army Reserves, she’s maintained her home in Suffolk all these years. She is preparing to retire, an event that was scheduled to take place last September, a time that she will never forget.

&uot;I was to retire Sept. 30, 2001, but of course that all changed for me and a lot of others when the terrorists struck the twin towers,&uot; said Harris. &uot;The Army asked me to put retirement off for a year, so I did. Now, I’m still arguing with them because I want to retire and they want me to stay. I am a warrant officer, meaning that I serve as an instructor in military intelligence. That’s all I can say about that…I’m proud of my career, moving from an entry-level soldier to military intelligence. It took a lot of work and it was a challenge, but I’m a firm believer in standing up to a challenge and I’m always ready for a new one.&uot;

Harris was ready for a new challenge in her business career also. She’s excited about opening her new shop, &uot;Classy Tuxedo Rentals by Sharon Harris&uot; at 140 W. Washington St., in the mini-mall.

&uot;I was just tired of working all week, and never having a weekend free,&uot; said Harris. &uot;I am ready for this, because I can run my shop four days a week and take care of my customers and have a life too.&uot;

And, in that life, there will be Harris’ children and Ryan, the granddaughter she invested $100 in when the girl was in the sixth grade.

&uot;I bought her a $100 violin and it surely has paid off,&uot; said Harris. &uot;This summer, she played for a wedding in New Jersey. We are so very proud of her and all that she’s accomplished.&uot;

Aside from time with the kids, Harris has a few other activities she enjoys. Would you believe roller skating?

&uot;Yes, I love to roller skate at the roller rinks,&uot; she exclaimed. &uot;I told you I am not 60 years old, but 60 years young and I believe in enjoying life. I also love to prepare foods for parties and give big parties. I also love to attend Kiwanis conventions. At one time, Vivian Saunders and I were called the Kiwanis Convention Queens and we truly enjoyed attending the conventions together.&uot;

As for Harris’ school board commitment; she’s dedicated to the youths of the city, just like she was to her own. She wants the best education for all children and believes that it is attainable through Suffolk Public Schools. She said she is still grateful to the people who chose to send her to the School Board because she truly cares for the children.

&uot;But, I won’t cut any slack,&uot; she added. &uot;I firmly believe that education begins in the home and with a combined effort between the school teachers and the parents, we can have the best educated kids in the state. It’s like any other challenge in life. It’s tough, it will take a lot of work, but it is an attainable goal. Suffolk Public Schools are some of the finest in the state and they offer great opportunities to any child who truly wants an education.&uot;

What’s next for Harris? When do elections come up again?

Name? Sharon Rose Harris. My mother loved the Rose of Sharon flowers, so she just reversed the name.

Age? I’m not old! I’m only 60 years young and in today’s world that’s only middle age.

Hometown? Baltimore, Md. is the place of my birth, but I consider Suffolk home. I’ve been here since 1982 and I truly enjoy Suffolk and the people here.

Family? My husband is Harold H. Harris, and we have a son, Harold Harris II, and a daughter, Eileen Harris, and two stepsons, Jermain and Tony. My husband is my friend and helpmate; and my son, Harold is in the Army Reserves at Ft. Stewart, Ga.; and my daughter, Eileen, is stationed at Camp Lejeune, where she works for the Navy. I also have the most wonderful granddaughter, Ryan, who plays the violin like an angel. She is a senior at Lakeland High School and you couldn’t guess, but we are all so blessed to have her.

Education? I earned my Bachelor of Arts from Rutgers University.

Career/Occupation? I’ve always been self-employed, operating my floral and tuxedo business. I have also served the U.S. Army Intelligence Service for the past 30 years as a member of the Reserves.

Volunteer Activities? I’m a member of Kiwanis, the Christian Women’s Club, the Pilot Club of Suffolk, and I am a business partner to Suffolk Public Schools. I also sit on Suffolk Public Schools Board.

Favorite thing about life in Suffolk? The people. They are the nicest people you could want to meet. They accepted me when I came here in ’82, and when I ran for the School Board seat they showed their approval by voting me to serve them.

Why did you pursue your chosen career? Laugh if you want, but I was an idiot! I made the choice too many years ago to change and had it not been for the people I serve through preparing floral tributes for them, I would have quit years ago.

Favorite thing about your job? Once again, it has to be my customers. They are some of the most wonderful people.

Least favorite thing about your job? Too many hours in the shop. I ran &uot;Power of Flowers&uot; for 30 years and I spent most of my time in the shop. Saturdays, Sundays, holidays, and my family’s important events. Many times, I was in the shop, with my husband’s help, and we were arranging or delivering flowers. That’s why I’ve recently closed Power of Flowers and gone into the tuxedo rental business. We’ve moved from Main Street to the West Washington Street Mini-Mall.

What accomplishment are you proudest of? I still have my husband after 38 years.

Who or what motivates and inspires you? Other volunteers doing great things, and my beautiful and talented Granddaughter, Ryan.

Favorite way to spend your free time? What free time? I wouldn’t know what to do with it if I had it.

What words of wisdom would you like to share with others? Be yourself so you won’t have to be by yourself.

What ingredients are in the recipe for a good life? A relationship with God, good family, close friends, and excellent food, especially great she-crab soup.

We all have our &uot;15 minutes of fame&uot; in this life. How would you spend your time in the spotlight? Doing volunteer work, helping others.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be and why? I wouldn’t change. I like me! How many people can say that? You must like yourself or no one else will.