William Jackson Harris Sr.
September 28, 1955 – July 12, 2020
William Jackson Harris Sr., of Friendswood, Texas died on Sunday, July 12, 2020 due to complications related to COVID-19 at the age of 64. Bill, as he was affectionately known to all, was a fiercely devoted child of God, family man, a brilliant engineer, a pilot, a craftsman, and an Air Force Veteran whose dedication to the service of others was only rivaled by his enjoyment of life’s little pleasures. He was married to the love of his life, Gaylene Harris, in June of 1986. He is survived by his children: William J. Harris Jr., Jasmine Patterson, Lindsey Foreman, and Eric M. Harris, his grandchildren: Madison Hartung, Kayla Harris, Alyssa Harris, Megan Harris, Faith Foreman, Patience Foreman, Leila Harris, and Archer Harris, and his great-grandchild: Olivia Hartung. Bill was born on September 28, 1955 in Kansas City, Missouri to Frances Harris and Walter “Buddy” Harris (deceased) and enjoyed his childhood in Florida with his two brothers, Ed Harris and Robert Harris (deceased), and his sisters, Susan Swett and Donna Rickabaugh. He is remembered by his entire family as a principled, focused, and caring man, who always put the needs of others above his own. From a young age, Bill never wavered on his desire to become an aerospace engineer. He enlisted in the Air Force in 1973, gaining experience working on numerous aircrafts, and eventually graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering in 1981. He went on to work for General Dynamics as the Maintainability Engineering Chief prior to finding a home with NASA for the next 29 years. Bill began his NASA career as the Flight Systems Safety and Mission Assurance Division Deputy Chief and went on to manage 35 missions as the Space Shuttle and Mission Assurance Program Manager for the Space Shuttle Program. He completed his long career by leading the Orion Ascent Abort 2 Test as the Project Planning and Control Manager. Prior to retiring in 2019, Bill was influential in assuring that the Johnson Space Center had a leading role in NASA’s Gateway Program. Bill enjoyed nothing more than spending time with his family, especially his grandchildren. His favorite activities revolved around having everyone come to his lake house to relax and enjoy being on the water together. He loved cruising around the lake in his boat with the family all on board and was an avid water-skier. When not spending time with family, Bill was devoted to personal projects. Whether it be making improvements to the lake property or building and flying remote controlled airplanes, he always strived to learn and improve in the endeavors he was passionate about. He will always be remembered as a loving husband, a patient father, a silly grandpa, a caring son, a supportive brother, and a brilliant human being who never backed down from a challenge and always lifted others to be the best they could be. He will be sorely missed. Memorial services will be scheduled at a later time due to ongoing COVID-19 concerns. Those wishing to inquire about the service or sending flowers may email the family at email@example.com.
No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
William Jackson Harris Sr.
July 20, 2020
I knew Bill as the Technical Manager and COTR for the Engineering and Science Contract (ESC) at NASA Johnson Space Center. He was an excellent mentor to both JSC and contractor personnel. He was a mentor to me and many other project/technical, procurement, and management staff. He had a sharp technical mind, and he could troubleshoot and resolve technical, management, and contractual issues quickly. He was also influential on many NASA, JSC projects that had Engineering Directorate and engineering contractor involvement. I knew that he enjoyed his family and the lake house. I know that he is in a better place now in Heaven. I have been blessed for working with and getting to know him.
July 20, 2020
As a manager in SAIC, I had the privilege of working for Bill on the Shuttle program. I appreciated the challenges and the respect Bill exhibited during that time. I learned a-lot from him and am sincerely sadden to know that he is no longer with us. As a contractor, I was ecstatic when my group received 100 for the performance during that period. He challenged but rewarded well. Thank you for sharing Bill with us.
July 20, 2020
Bill and I had a unique relationship - we both believed that it was all too easy to get caught up in the moment and not do the thinking and work necessary to catch the subtle things that always come back as a failure. We wrote on this with encouragement from our mutual friend, Dr. Ken Cox (God rest his soul!)
Bill and I spoke 2 weeks ago and were trying to get together at his lake retreat. We settled into trying to get lunch sat up - both of us hitting busy times.
Let that be a reminder to all of us that his devotion to God's Word which includes not taking tomorrow for granted, should be lived every single day.
I miss you my friend, and will forever regret not getting that last time together to happen. God bless you and rest in God's glory!
July 19, 2020
It’s taken all week for me to write this, my heart is deeply saddened by the loss of my dear friend Bill Harris, “Uncle Bill” to my kids. We met in church in the 80’s, and had an awesome group of friends. So many memories of fellowship, we had pot lucks, camp outs, boat rides (Bill spent hours giving everyone boat rides on Benbrook Lake), and loving support through our (mine and his) divorces. Back then wherever Bill was, William was with him, there was never a time that William was not at his side. William, I hope you know how much your Dad loved you and how important it was for him to be the “best” single Dad. When Bill met Gaylene, it was a perfect match! I immediately loved her and her kids, our Lindsay/Lindsey’s are forever friends. Jasmine became the loving older sibling to William, Lindsey, and then Eric. Eric the baby of the clan, brought everyone together, they were all excited about having a baby brother. Bill loved his family, first and foremost. When the family moved to Friendswood, we naturally lost contact. We would see each other whenever possible, graduations, marriages, births, etc, and always picked up where we left off, which is a sign of true friendship. I can’t believe Bill is not there to just say hey or pick up the phone if you need him. He was one of my forever friends and Gaylene and kids, I’m always here for you too. Love, Love, Lisa
July 18, 2020
I grew up with Bill in Miami, FL where he & his family lived on a lake.
I remember him walking with me to school (1st & he 2nd grade) when my dad's car broke down. He tutored me when I had trouble with math. He got me involved in a drum & bugle corp. He was the big brother I never had. Unfortunately, the last time I saw him was 1981, when we both went to UF. I always thought we would meet again. Bill was quiet, serious, and you knew him by his good deeds. He will be missed by many, but leaves us with warm memories.
My condolences to the Harris & Swett families.
July 17, 2020
Bill was such a wonderful person with amazing stories. Working with him was a true pleasure. He did love those M&Ms. My sincere condolences to his family.
July 14, 2020
What I always appreciated about Bill back when he visited my family in Colerain, NC was his ready smile, easy laugh, and sharp mind. And he loved to keep his car clean! My deepest condolences to his family.
July 13, 2020
To the family of Mr. William J. Harris. “Bill” will always be missed. He was the nicest “Boss” that I ever had the pleasure of working with. He was very smart, knowledgeable about life, witty, funny, kind hearted and very firm in his word of thoughts. I loved his kindness. We all will miss him dearly. I feel the Lord has a special plan for him. May he “rest in peace”.
Sheryl R. Weathers