Sarah Goodwin

Kathi Ovnic
Holly Korschun
March 22, 1999


Emory University School of Medicine recently received a bequest of more than $17 million from the estate of Mrs. Reunette W. Harris.

The gift is part of a legacy of generosity to the school begun decades ago by W. Clair Harris of Winder, Ga.; his wife, Reunette; and their daughter, Lucy Clair.

"We already are warmly grateful to the Harris family for all its past support," says Thomas J. Lawley, M.D., dean, Emory University School of Medicine. "This most recent gift is remarkable and leaves us quite honored. Mrs. Harris had faith enough in Emory to believe we could use her support to better understand and treat what she called 'the diseases and physical illnesses and disabilities of mankind' and to offer medical education to students who possess ability but not the funds. Our challenge now is to live up to her expectations for research breakthroughs and the training of physicians passionate about patient care."

Specifically, 60 percent of the gift is to be earmarked for biomedical research; the remaining 40 percent will increase the school's Harris Scholarship Fund, making more funds available to assist needy students with scholarships and fellowships.

Numerous medical students, faculty members and research teams at Emory have benefited from previous Harris family support. Several Harris Scholars have already gone on to distinguished medical careers with expertise ranging from primary to subspecialty clinical care and interests in basic science and clinical investigation.

The Harris Medical Research Fund has supported investigations at Emory in heart and vascular disease, mental health and arthritis. In addition, the Harris family has played a key role in funding facilities and enhancing research at Emory Eye Center and Winship Cancer Center.

The Reunette W. Harris Chair of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, the first endowed chair in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, is held by psychiatrist and researcher Charles B. Nemeroff, M.D., Ph.D., department chairman.

The Carter Smith, Sr., Chair in Medicine ­ funded by the Harris family ­ is held by William T. Branch, Jr., M.D., vice chairman for primary care and director of the division of general medicine in Emory's department of medicine.

Dr. Smith, Jr., was a long-time friend of the Harrises and served as Mrs. Harris's personal physician from 1980 until her death in 1994. Carter Smith, Sr., M.D., was, however the physician who drew the Harrises to Emory. The senior Dr. Smith was physician to Mrs. Harris from the mid 1950s until 1980.

Mr. Harris started a garment manufacturing business in Winder in 1929. Nearly 30 years later, he sold the business to run an investment firm and real estate company. He served as president and chairman of W.C. Harris & Co. and Harris Realty Company until his death in 1973.


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