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Former ADA President Harris dies

March 23, 2017

By Kimber Solana

Dr. Jack Harris, who served as ADA president from 1992-93, died March 13. He was 85.
    
In 2002, Dr. Harris was the recipient of the ADA's Distinguished Service Award, the highest honor conferred by the ADA Board of Trustees for his longtime service and dedication to dentistry.
    
 
Dr. Harris
While serving as a captain in the United States Air Force from 1953-61, Dr. Harris was also earning his dental degree at the University of Texas Dental Branch in Houston. He graduated in 1961 and opened a private practice that same year. He later served as an assistant and associate professor of periodontics at UTDB from 1962-95.
    
A strong proponent of organized dentistry, Dr. Harris was elected as the first trustee from the newly formed 15th ADA Trustee District (Texas). Previously, he served as president and speaker of the House of the Texas Dental Association.
    
"I will be a president who defends dentistry privately, publicly and in the courts," Dr. Harris said in his ADA president candidate statement. "Today's political arena is no place for timidity. Dedication, determination and leadership will turn the challenges we face to opportunities to provide the best dental health care ever."
    
Beyond dentistry, Dr. Harris also served as a member of the Texas House of Representatives from 1985-96, as a commissioner in his native Brazoria County, Texas, and as district committeeman of the Boys Scouts of America.
    
Dr. Harris is survived by his wife of 62 years, Mary Ellen Harris; son, Rick Harris and wife Susan; two grandchildren and one great granddaughter.
    
"I was lucky enough to be exposed to dentistry through my wife, Mary Ellen," Dr. Harris had told the Texas Dental Journal in 2004. Dr. Harris, while serving in the Air Force and stationed at Ellington Air Force Base, frequently visited the dental office that Mrs. Harris had worked at while they were dating.
    
"I decided [dentistry] fit my desire to provide for my family while helping others," Mr. Harris said.

A memorial service for Dr. Harris will be held March 25 at First United Methodist Church in Pearland. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his name to the Texas Dental Association Smiles Foundation, 1946 S. IH35, Austin, Texas, 78704 or to Lewy Body Dementia Foundation.