Veteran Sullivan South sports announcer, county school board member Harris dies

Rick Wagner • Feb 18, 2019 at 9:00 PM

KINGSPORT — The booming baritone Voice of the Rebels has gone silent.

Longtime Sullivan County Board of Education member and Sullivan South High School football and basketball announcer Larry Harris, 70, died Sunday.

“I don’t think I ever encountered Mr. Harris that he didn’t have a wide smile, a big pat on the back and much encouragement,” said Sullivan County Director of Schools Evelyn Rafalowski, a nearly 42-year veteran of the school system and friend of Harris and his family. “He was a good guy.”  

Harris announced in 2010 he was not seeking re-election after 24 years on the board but remained as South’s football announcer. In January 2016, the Board of Education voted 7-0 to name the press box at South’s football stadium for Harris, then 67. Rafalowski said Harris also announced events at Colonial Heights Middle and helped with graduation. She said he attended a Lady Rebels basketball game on Saturday and was a dedicated community servant. Rafalowski said he’d still been announcing until recently.

Harris also was a senior account manager at Cumulus Broadcasting Tri-Cities, and his voice was heard on radio commercials on Cumulus stations, including WQUT.

Harris was the public address announcer for South football and basketball since the school opened in 1980, according to his Linkedin profile. He had lived in the Colonial Heights area of Kingsport for more than 50 years, coached and officiated baseball, football and basketball for many years, served for 24 years on the Sullivan County Board of Education and was lead singer for The Reflections band for 22 years. The Arkansas native graduated from Kingsport’s Dobyns-Bennett High School in 1966.

“Larry and I were pretty much on the same page when it came to doing what was right for Sullivan County,” said former school board member Jack Bales, who served with Harris. “He had a big booming voice that was very professional.” 

Harris began his service on the BOE in 1986 at age 38, serving two six-year terms and then three four-year terms, and he was twice chairman. He and wife, Kathy, were married 52 years. Harris, who worked as a real estate agency owner/broker for more than 21 years and a broker/agent for almost two years, earned a bachelor’s degree in business and broadcasting from East Tennessee State University in 1971 and has three grown children and seven grandchildren.

His obituary said he died after an extended illness.




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