How long have you lived in Hernando County, and where do you live? Where did you live previously?
I've lived here all my life. I was born in Brooksville and graduated from Moton High School. My wife and I live in Brooksville.
Who are the members of your family?
My wife, Evelyn, and I have been married for 45 years. We have two sons — Harry III, who lives in Brooksville; Keith, who lives in Orlando — and one daughter, Katrina Washington, who also lives in Orlando. We have six grandchildren.
I have four sisters: Betty Morgan, Mammie Sanders and Brenda Mobley, all of Brooksville, and Joann Harris of Tampa.
Tell us about your career.
While I was still in high school, I worked part-time as a handyman for Richard McGee, an attorney here in Brooksville. He treated me like family and called me his "right-hand man." I would do odd jobs around the house for him including housekeeping and landscaping.
I was in the Army from 1961 to 1965, and when I returned Mr. McGee said my job was safe with him. Before Mr. McGee passed away, he asked me to stay on and continue to help out his wife, Patricia. To date, I've been working for the McGee family for more than 50 years.
In addition to being a general handyman, when I got out of the Army I was hired to work for the Hernando County School District. I began as a custodian and was warehouse supervisor when I retired 40 years later.
As supervisor, my job was to make sure every county school received all the supplies, materials and classroom furnishings they requested. I was in charge of all incoming merchandise and responsible for supplying each cafeteria with the items they needed as well as food.
I've also worked as a private bartender over the years (probably about 40 years now), mostly at holiday parties and other occasions. And for 30 years, I worked part-time for Florida Power. When I hit 25 years, they gave me a pin.
What kinds of activities are you involved in now?
I'm a member of First Baptist Church in Brooksville. At the church I am head of the trustees, president of Choir No. 1, member of the ushers board and president of the Blue Saint Charitable Foundation.
Also, I am an assistant with Meals on Wheels, a member of the Frederick Kelly Elks Lodge 1270 in Brooksville, and now the newly elected commander of American Legion Post 99.
As the commander, my goals for this year include getting more veterans to become members, especially the younger generation, and with more younger members helping, I hope we can do more good in the community helping the less fortunate. We also have plans to do some renovations and upgrades here at the post. It looks like it's shaping up to be a busy year for the post.
Do you have any special hobbies?
I love to bowl and have been bowling for 40 years. I'm a man who likes to keep busy; I'm always working doing something. I enjoy landscaping but I'm not sure if you would count that as a hobby. My wife tells me I'm a good housekeeper but not a cook. I leave all the cooking to her.
What are your favorite things to do in Hernando County?
Helping others in our community, and fun events we hold here at the post.
What do you think would make Hernando County a better place to live?
If more people worked to get along with each other, regardless of race or gender, that would make Hernando and the world a better place.
Tell us something about yourself that most people don't know.
First, that I am a religious man. I have to give God the praises, He has been very good to me for 71 years.
I was the first black to integrate at Louie's Bowling Center in Brooksville. I was the first black to join the American Legion in Hernando County, and now the first black to be commander of Post 99 in Brooksville.
Hernando Neighbors is an occasional feature of the Hernando Times. Do you know someone who would make a good profile? We'd like to hear from you. Contact Jean Hayes, community news coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1438.