Funeral services for Nora Margaret Thomason Harris, 91, will be Friday, July 7, 2017, at 2 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church of Ardmore with Dr. Rick Baggett officiating.  Burial will follow at Provence Cemetery.
 
A time of visitation and support for the family will be Thursday evening from 6 until 7 p.m. at the funeral home.

Nora Margaret Thomason Harris was born in Ardmore on Nov. 24, 1925, and passed away on July 1, 2017. She firmly believed that “Life Is to Be Experienced,” and shared her enthusiasm with her family, friends, fellow educators, and students for more than nine decades. Described by many as a "pistol," she was a woman ahead of her time, devoting her energy and tenacity to creating equality in education for all children, and by her own example, advocating   for women's rights in the workplace (and at home!).

Nora's formative years were spent in southern Oklahoma, moving with her family among the communities of Ardmore, Rock Springs, and Provence.  Upon graduating from Dickson High School in 1943, Nora spent two years working in Dallas as a “Rosie the Riveter” on the B-24 Liberator assembly line for North American, an airplane manufacturing company. On Dec. 28, 1946, at Calvary Presbyterian Church, she married her sweetheart, James Aubrey Harris, with whom she shared 62 years of marriage. They had two daughters, Karen Jane Harris Willis and Jimmie Deean Harris Wallis.

After WWII, she attended Oklahoma A&M, then completed her studies at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Home Economics. She went on to earn a Master's degree in Elementary Education from the University of Oklahoma and did post-graduate work in Reading Specialties and Administration.

To Nora, education was not just a career, it was a calling. This was ingrained from an early age as both of Nora’s parents were teachers; several of her siblings, both of her daughters, and three of her granddaughters followed her into the field of education. She began her teaching career at Lone Grove, and held multiple positions for Ardmore City Schools: teacher at Franklin Elementary, Reading Specialist, Principal of the Developmental Education Center and Director of Special Education. She was well-respected and recognized as an innovator in her field.  For more than three decades, she was coordinator of Ardmore City School’s Exceptional Children’s Program. She was committed to educating children of all abilities and firmly believed that education was the key to developing productive and loving human beings.

Nora helped write the proposal for desegregation for Ardmore City Schools, was one of the first female Administrators of Special Education in the State of Oklahoma, and was recognized by “Look” Magazine for her innovative work at the Developmental Education Center. She retired from public education in 1986, but never wavered in her belief in and commitment to the importance of a quality education for all children.

In addition to teaching, Nora was passionate about her family and her farm. Raised in a family with seven children, she remained close to her siblings throughout her life; she counted on them for advice in teaching, farming and business matters.
She was the undisputed matriarch of her own family, setting an example and creating a legacy of integrity, honesty, service, self-motivation, and   independence   in her professional career and personal life. 

After retiring, she and her daughters purchased Kiddie Land, an iconic Ardmore children’s store that is still in business today. An accomplished seamstress, Nora also took up quilting with great passion. She pieced quilts and created beautiful hand-made gifts that are cherished heirlooms in her friends’ and family’s homes. She was very involved with her grandchildren from serving as a taxi service to school and activities, to providing moral and financial support, and holding them accountable for their good and bad decisions—for she understood that education was a lifelong undertaking and not something that just happened in the classroom. She cherished her great grandchildren and showered them with love, attention, and (often unsolicited) advice.

A love of the land was always part of Nora's   life. She grew up in a farming family, purchased her own land, parcel by parcel, and raised commercial beef cattle and dairy goats. She spent many happy hours driving around the pasture, admiring her cattle, and   enjoying God's creation. 

Nora was a member of Delta Zeta Sorority, Delta Kappa Gamma, Calvary First Presbyterian Church, a member and elder of First Presbyterian Church, a lifetime member of the National Education Association, a member of Carter County Retired Teachers, and was recognized as a 60-year member of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

A very special thank you from the family to Cross Timbers Hospice and caregivers Sara Porter, Valene Stonebarger, and Terrell and Erica Fuller for their daily patience and dedicated service. 

Nora is survived by her two daughters: Karen Willis; Jimmie Wallis and husband Bill, all of Ardmore; four granddaughters: Christie Willis Millis and husband Bill, Stillwater; Joey Willis Niebrugge and husband Donny; Sarah Wallis Karnish and husband Kyle; and Callie Wallis Smith and husband Eric, Oklahoma City; and six great-grandchildren.
  She is also survived by her sisters: Harlyn Smith and husband Glenn, Ardmore; Susie Smith and husband Larry, Fort Worth; brothers: Bob Thomason and wife Carol Jean; and Frank Thomason and wife Dianne, Ardmore; and many nieces and nephews.   Nora’s parents, M.A. and Ruth Thomason; husband, James Harris; son-in-law, Joe Don Willis; brother, Malcom Thomason; and sister, Hiawatha Griffith, preceded her in death. We will miss her. 

Please read to a child, thank a teacher, and support public education in lieu of sending flowers. Memorials can be made to a cause near and dear to Nora's heart: Ardmore City Schools Special Olympics Team, Ardmore City Schools,  801 M Street, NE, Ardmore, OK 73401; or  Cross Timbers Hospice,  207 C Street, NW, Ardmore, OK 73401,  www.crosstimbershospice.org.