William Shearon Harris (Sept. 12, 1917 - Aug. 28, 1980 )
Born in Middleburg, NC, as the son of a Baptist minister, Shearon Harris would become one of the leading utility executives in the country, as well as a national spokesperson for the business community.
Shearon graduated from Beaufort High School and worked his way through
Wake Forest University during the Great Depression waiting on tables at
boarding houses. He graduated from Wake Forest and earned his law degree
in 1938 from that institution.
He started his law practice in Albemarle before joining the U.S. Army during World War II. He rose from private to first lieutenant, serving in Africa and Europe winning a Bronze Star and the Legion of Merit.
Returning to his law practice, he was elected to the North Carolina House of Representatives from Stanly County in 1955. He also served as principal clerk. He failed to win re-election in 1957 and joined Carolina Power & Light (CP&L) that year as associate attorney.
In 1960, Shearon was named as a CP&L vice president, becoming a director of the company in 1961.
In 1963, Shearon Harris was named president of CP&L. In 1969, he was named chief executive officer and chairman in 1970.
During the 1960s and 1970s, CP&L dramatically expanded its operations. Shearon Harris supervised during the 1970s a doubling of annual company sales, a five-fold increase in investments in plants and equipments and a industry-leading research and development effort.
In 1973, Shearon Harris relinquished the presidency to Sherwood H. Smith, Jr., and in 1979 also tapped Smith as the chief executive office for the company.
He served as chairman of the Chamber of Commerce of the United States between April 1978 and April 1979, as well as serving as director for many years.
Among his other board memberships were: U.S. Steel Corporation, General Motors Corporation, Durham Life Corp., Wachovia Bank & Trust Company & Wachovia Corporation, National Association of Manufacturers, Research Triangle Foundation of North Carolina and the North Carolina Foundation of Church Related Colleges.
He also served with many industry associations, including being the chairman of the Edison Electric Institute, Electric Power Research Institute and the National Association of Electric Companies.
In 1980, the North Carolina Citizens Association (now the North Carolina Citizens for Business & Industry) awarded Shearon Harris as its Distinguished Citizenship Award to "communicate their admiration, respect, and affection to this great North Carolinian."
In 1995, Shearon Harris was posthumously inducted into the North Carolina Business Hall of Fame.
He was married to Helen Finch Morgan Harris and they had three daughters.
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