Edythe Sue "Tissy" (King) Harris, 82, joined her soulmate in Heaven on December 12, 2019. Edythe and her husband, Earl Leon Harris (10/13/1935-11/16/2019), were married sixty four years. During her last few days, she had all of her children (Susan, Gregg, Mauri, Staci, Doug and Donna) home and by her side along with the company and support of her oldest sister and best friend, Joyce.
Tissy was born on April 9, 1937 to Cecil W. and Beatrice O. King at home in Brandon, Florida. The family home was located on the east side of Kings Avenue about one block north of Highway 60. She was delivered by her grandmother, "Mamoy" (Suzie Bell King). Her grandmother and grandfather, "Hoppy" (Ralph Garland King), played a very large part in her and her sisters' upbringing after their parents divorced. Edythe is survived by her three sisters, Evelyn Joyce (King) Robison, Martha Faye (King) Wingfield and Jamie Beatrice (King) Hall, her half sister, Cecilia Ann (King) Hysmith, and stepsister, Sylvia Joan (Rousseau) Walker.
Our mother's mission in life was to show and share love. She was a natural-born caregiver, wife and mother. She was the perfect southern hostess and a die-hard optimist. She excelled at anything that she put her mind to.
As a young girl, Tissy was obsessed with two things; dancing and twirling a baton. And she was very good at both. She spent many hours practicing her twirling in the hopes of becoming a majorette. And in the eighth grade, she was spotted by the high school band director who invited her to start practicing and helping with the older girls. He could not believe her talent. And she went on to become the head majorette and captain of the drill team.
But she was also dreaming of becoming a Rockette for the Radio City Hall. She loved to dance and could quickly pick up most any dance move or style including tap. And the love of dance stayed with her throughout her life. She would dance with us in the kitchen, she would tap for us and we all always loved watching her dance with Daddy.
She started dating our father at the age of thirteen, but that did not get in the way of her schooling, social activities, serving her community or caring for others. She was Kiwanette Club President, Chapter Sweetheart of Future Farmers of America and a member of the Honor Society, Modern Dance Club, Pan-American Club, Student Council, Commercial Club and Teen-Age Youth Council. And she was a Calendar Girl.
Best described by her sister, Faye, "She was always a ray of sunshine." Aunt Faye went on to say that she could not understand what Tissy saw in Earl at the time. But he must have loved that ray of sunshine, because he quickly decided to straighten up and fly right. And he went on to become a very dear friend and brother to her sisters.
When Tissy was a teenager (I was five years younger), our daddy was going to haul watermelon to Virginia during the summer. So he decided to take Tissy and I to stay in Exmore, Virginia for the summer. Well, your mother did NOT want to go! Earl was in the Navy and she needed to be near the mailbox, I guess.
We got to Virginia and OH! She was so homesick! She just couldn't stand it. We were staying on the beach and had bunk beds. I'll never forget walking into the bedroom to find her sitting on the bottom bunk with a roll of toilet paper. I said, "Tissy! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” Well she didn't have any paper and was desperate. She just had to write Earl. So away she went writing a love letter on a roll of toilet paper!
She tried and tried to convince me to be homesick too. And I guess she did. Because when Aunt Annie came up she said, "Oh Cecil! These girls are homesick! I'm taking them home." And she did.
I still can not believe how distraught she was for not being in contact with him, especially for her age. But then again, they were tight. They had something very special that lasted right on until the end.
~Jamie (King) Hall
Tissy and Earl were married on September 3, 1955 at her grandparents home in Tampa and they honeymooned in Silver Springs, Florida. Daddy was stationed in Green Cove Springs with the US Navy at that time and that is where they set up housekeeping and started their family.
After returning to Tampa and purchasing their first home, Earl was going to college and working two and three jobs and the babies just kept coming. Even with medical bills mounting and living in a very small home with three or four children, they would still take in anyone who needed a place to stay. And even with very little grocery money, they recall that Mama could whip up a meal fit for a king and ALWAYS with a smile on her face.
Our house was always open to all of the neighborhood children, their mothers and our extended family. Tissy was always busy. Her house was spotless and there was always something going on in the kitchen. She became involved with her church. She was constantly dealing with children that were sick which involved many trips to doctors' offices and many hospital stays. And Mama was the kind that if she heard of another baby in the hospital without a parent present, she would rock them too.
In the summer of 1967, they left the city and moved to the dairy farm in Marion County just north of Ocala and into an even smaller home in the middle of a cow pasture. Daddy was milking cows around the clock and adding additions to the house and remodeling between milk shifts. And Mama was settled in to doing what she did best... finding a sweet spot in every situation and making everyone's day as bright as possible.
She stayed busy sewing curtains, making rugs, painting, refinishing furniture, cleaning, tending to all of the calves, working in the yard, milking cows when need be, always cooking and even found time to climb trees and explore with us. She was homeroom mom, baked cookies and cakes for all of the school functions and, most always, had a houseful of kids whether it be our friends or cousins. And in the middle of all of this found time to have twins about six years after moving to Ocala.
Where to begin……….
She was my second mama and treated me like one of her’s……she loved on me (lots of hugs), she fed me (lots of Debbie Cakes), she disciplined me (even when Gregg deserved it!) and she doctored me (“Take your medicine Puny”!)
She entertained us all…even to stop what she was working on and dance for us when we would relentlessly keep begging! We’d swim all day long, in the earlier days in a cow trough and then they upgraded us to a real, huge swimming pool! She’d fix us lunch and we’d get out long enough to eat, sit out 30 minutes, then back in. She’d run us to town and drop us off for the day all by ourselves! I think now….the drive into town was definitely worth getting rid of a couple of kids!
I will never forget the family vacations in the TransVan listening to Roger Miller and singing to the top of our lungs “King of the Road”, “You Can’t Rollerskate in a Buffalo Herd”, “Dang Me” and “Chug A Lug”. Gosh, we had fun! And I will forever cherish and miss those times!
God truly blessed me with not just one precious Mother but two…….I will love and miss her always…but am absolutely comforted that she is now having fun in Heaven, dancing again with my second Dad.
Not long after Doug and Donna were born, Daddy remodeled our entire house and built Mama her dream kitchen. And her kitchen was not just "a kitchen", it was about the size of an entire house complete with cabinets to the ceiling with custom chicken wire doors. And through the chicken wire, you could see the top shelves lined with a variety of canned goods all canned by Mama. She had two stoves, two ovens and a huge fireplace with adjustable cooking racks. And there were times that she had something cooking on all of them at once. Sunday dinner was a special time, however Mama laid out a dinner equivalent to a Sunday dinner most everyday. And everything was made from scratch. We didn't drink sodas or flavored waters. We had sweet tea, milk, water and sometimes juice. And dessert was always homemade. She baked nearly everyday. Now snacks were a different story. The kitchen was filled with open shelves that were lined with large jars full of snacks. There was everything from pickled pigs feet and beef jerky to candy and Little Debbies. But keeping the snack jars full was usually Daddy’s department. It was something he loved doing for everyone.
In the kitchen was a huge table and benches, a television, Daddy's favorite chair, a couch and a bar. So the kitchen is where we lived. It is where Mama taught us to dance. It is where Daddy napped between milkings. It is where we got our "talking to's" and it is also where all of the visiting and entertaining took place. And everyone in the area knew that the farm never slept. So Mama's kitchen was open about twenty hours a day. And everyone was always welcome.
Tissy put in many hours hosting, planning and helping to coordinate the social events of our church. And Mama could throw a party or event like nobody's business from engagement parties, wedding and baby showers, graduation celebrations to weddings and our church's annual Round-Up Sunday. She was also a member of the Ocala Christian Women's Club and spent many hours planning and making decorations for their monthly luncheons. She also taught Sunday School for many many years.
She loved and was devoted to her church, her church family and the Lord. For several years, she was on the church visitation team and spent many days inviting people to church and telling them about the Lord. And in recent years, we have heard from many how our mother was such a great example and who was the one to first share Jesus with them not only in words but also in her actions.
Of all the beautiful things your mom did while on this earth, I am sure, she was especially pleased when she had the opportunity to share the plan of salvation. Some she led to the Lord, if not, she had a book written by a pastor she greatly respected. She would leave the book with you and instructions to READ IT (she didn’t mince words) with the hopes that you would come to know the Lord as your Savior.
I thank her for passing that little book on to me. Thankfully, I made that decision. I love her.
~ Vivian Harris
Our aunt recently shared a story about a time when the oldest siblings were very small and money was tight. Tissy took a job at a meat packing plant and quickly was nicknamed "The Churchy Girl". Though she was working with a little tougher group of girls than herself, they all loved and respected her and became her friends. And when it was time for her to quit and leave them, they were actually sad and said that they would miss her. But that just shows what kind of woman Mama was and has always been... an angel.
After closing the dairy and taking a job with the USDA, Daddy moved Mama to Pennsylvania and that is when her many years of service to everyone including her husband truly paid off. For their 40th wedding anniversary, she requested a "proper proposal". And at a dinner party in their honor, Earl got down on one knee. And that is when the real honeymoon began.
After attending her 40th high school reunion and remembering what a great dancer Tissy was and seeing how much she still enjoyed it, Earl requested that she teach him to dance like she danced. They started practicing and they never looked back. He also told her that he was "boxing up her baggy dungarees and buying her some tight-fittin' jeans”. And that he did. Shopping for Tissy became one of his favorite past times as he bought her the most beautiful dance dresses, shoes and accessories. She was "Calendar Girl" ready once again. And Daddy loved showing Mama off. They were love birds once again and made each other light up until the very end.
During Tissy and Earl's nearly seventy years together, they were blessed with six children, 19 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren, a large extended family and many, many wonderful dance friends, church friends, and other close lifelong friends. They lived various lifestyles. They worked, shopped, explored and danced all over the country. They had fun together. They loved each other dearly and they were a team. And just as we had all anticipated, they were very blessed to have passed one right after the other. They just were not meant to be apart.
There will be a private family celebration of life for our parents on December 28, 2019. And their ashes will be placed together at the Florida National Cemetary in Bushnell, Florida.
Thank you all, once again, for your love and condolences. Tissy (and Earl) will be missed by so many. Our mother and father are now "Dancing In Heaven".
~The Harris Children
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