John Harper

May 24, 1942October 10, 2020

John B. Harper, age 78 died October 10, 2020 at 11:55 am from complications of cancer treatments. He was born in Wadley, Alabama and lived most of his early life in Roanoke, Alabama. He was a resident of Mountain Brook, Alabama. He was preceded in death by his parents, Homer Barto and Ruth Pearson Harper.

Mr. Harper received his bachelor and juris doctor degrees from the University of Alabama. He was a member of Delta Tau Delta social fraternity, Pi Sigma Alpha National Political Science Honor Society, and Phi Alpha Delta legal fraternity. Following undergraduate school in 1964, he entered the United State Army, serving as an officer with the 16th Quartermaster Battalion at Fort Bragg, N.C. and active duty in the Dominican Republic. Upon graduation from law school in 1969, he joined the Office of Chief Counsel Internal Revenue Service, in Nashville, Tennessee. In 1973 and 1974, he served a year in the Interpretative Division, Office of Chief Counsel in Washington, D.C., before returning to Nashville for four more years. In 1978, he became the Assistant District Counsel in the Office of District Counsel Birmingham. Shortly thereafter, he was named District Counsel, a position he held until 1996. For several years during this time, he was an adjunct professor of law at the Cumberland Law School, Samford University. In 1996, he joined the Senior Executive Services as Deputy Regional Counsel Southeast Region, Internal Revenue Service, where he worked until his retirement in 1999. Following his federal service, he practiced law privately, specializing in tax controversy. In the early 1980’s, Mr. Harper was Pack Committee Chairman for Cub Scout Pack 322 in Vestavia Hills, Alabama. He was a Rotarian and a Paul Harris Fellow. While he practiced law, he was a member of the Birmingham Tax Forum. While in Vestavia Hills, he was an active member of the Vestavia Hills United Methodist Church. He was immensely proud of his Quaker heritage through the Pearson family of Wayne County, North Carolina. The Pearson family operated a station on the Underground Railway during the Civil War. Mr. Harper was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Kelly Ingram Post 668 and several environmental conservation groups. Mr. Harper’s greatest passion in life was shag dancing; his proudest achievement, being the organizer and principal founder of the Beach Shaggers of Birmingham in 1991-1992. He was a longtime member of the Shag-Atlanta and Seven Hills Shag Club of Rome, Georgia. He was a regular attendee at the tri-annual Society of Stranders events at Ocean Drive, North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. In 2006, he and his wife, Sally, were inducted into the National Living Legends of Dance. In 2009, he was given the Shagging Icon award by the Association of Carolina Shag Clubs. He often wrote articles on Shagging and beach music for the S.O.S. Carefree Times, the Beach Shaggers of Birmingham Shag Rag and periodicals of general circulation. He also loved carpentry, woodworking and do-it-yourself projects of any kind. Mr. Harper is survived by his wife, Sally Christian Harper, who was the light and love of his whole life; his beloved son, John S. Harper, Portland, Oregon; step-daughter Christian A. Nelson (David), of Birmingham, Alabama; grandchildren Alice Rose Nelson and Jennie Ruth Nelson; his sister, Evelyn Harper Thoubboron and his brother in law, Frank Thoubboron, Clearwater, Florida; niece and nephew, Frank Thoubboron and Pat Ward , Raleigh, North Carolina; and first cousins Sarah Shoffner and Helen Teter, Liberty, North Carolina. The family will have a private Celebration of Life at a later date.


No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.


John Harper

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