Rayford L. Harris, a longtime faculty member at Virginia State University, died in his sleep on January 9 at his home in Richmond. He was 97 years old.
A native of Stonesboro, South Carolina, Harris was the oldest of nine children. After serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II, Harris enrolled at what is now Hampton University in Virginia.
After graduation, Harris taught industrial arts in the Richmond public school system, before joining the faculty at Virginia State in 1959. At Virginia State, he directed the industrial arts and technical education teacher training program. For 32 years, he prepared school teachers in woodworking, metalworking, and other industrial arts.
Professor Harris also served as chair of the Richmond School Board and was a member of the state Board of Education and the State Council of Higher Education. He was also active in local politics.
Upon his retirement from Virginia State in 1991, Harris was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters and named professor emeritus. Endowed scholarships bearing his name have been established at Hampton University and Virginia State University.