From a eulogy delivered by Vernon E. Jordan Jr., former president of the National Urban League, for William Beasley Harris, who died Nov. 6:
As a loving and devoted husband, a teacher, lawyer, diplomat, judge, civic leader and member of a marriage partnership dedicated to public service, Bill Harris did not know the meaning of the word "rest." He was and remains an example to all who profess to care, but bemoan the "lack of time."
It is written that, "we must use time as a tool, not as a couch." Bill used the tool of time much like an energetic craftsman, applying each minute to the finishing touches of his work. His family was his community and his community was his family. He embraced all who needed him with an uncommon selflessness. If, as one writer suggests, the true test of civilization is the way it cares for its helpless members, then Bill Harris was a culture unto himself.
The record speaks for itself: Bill served as vice chairman of the Health and Welfare Council; chairman of the special committee on the welfare crisis for the District of Columbia, directed the March of Dimes campaign and led fund-raising efforts for the Washington Urban League.
As a professor of law, he had a hand in training and development of hundreds of black lawyers. But he would be embarrassed at the praise, troubled by the attention, confused by the acclaim for deeds that he believed were and should be part and parcel of every decent person's daily routine. . . .
We are all instructed, inspired, encouraged by the most wonderful aspect of Bill Harris' life -- his love for and marriage to his beloved Pat (Patricia Roberts Harris). It was a good and beautiful union. Throughout Pat's marvelously extraordinary career, from law school to the Cabinet of the president of the United States, Bill was her most loyal, enthusiastic, dedicated supporter. He was there. He was her anchor. He was to her like the tree planted by the rivers of water -- immovable in his support, love, adoration and appreciation of his wife and her great work. Oh, what a marriage! Oh, what a man! We are grateful for his life and our time with him. May he rest in peace.