Centennial birthday celebration

  • Published
  • By Carolyn Peeler
  • 49th Force Support Squadron
A woman who dedicated more than 20 years of honorable service to Holloman's Military Personnel Flight recently became one of Alamogordo's newest centenarians.

Dr. Willie Mae Harris turned 100 years old, Jan. 10, 2010. She is the 10th of 13 children and hails from Taylor, Texas. She is a graduate of Hardin High School in Brownwood, Texas, and attended Paul Quinn College in Waco, Texas, to become a teacher.

She never had the opportunity to teach there because jobs were so scarce. Dr. Harris enrolled in a cosmetology school and was employed as a beautician for 10 years at Elizabeth's Beauty Shop.

Dr. Harris moved to Alamogordo, N.M., and worked at Holloman in Military Personnel, where she retired in 1972 after 20-plus years of faithful and honorable service. She is the recipient of a master's degree and Ph.D. in Christian Education.

Those who know her, know she is no stranger to Christian Education. Her father was the pastor of the Little Zion Baptist Church in Brownwood, Texas, and she was its first Baptist Training Director in 1941.

Her experiences enable her to be a great leader in the Alamogordo community for many years and act as a representative for many mainstream activities in Otero County. She has served on the local Library Board for several years and was the first recipient of the Alamogordo Women's Club's "Women of Distinction" Hall of Fame Award. She was also one of the women honored by the local Women's History Committee.

The "Spirit of Women" Award was also bestowed upon her, representing women of all cultures and ages, when she was captured in a bronze bas relief by artist Ernie Lee Miller.

She is still an active member in her church, as well as the Otero County NAACP, the Hospital auxiliary and the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority.

Dr. Harris married her late-husband Louis "Tootsie" Harris in 1935, and he provided encouragement to her in all her endeavors. She has a large circle of friends who lovingly call her "Mom".

When asked how it feels to be 100 years old, Dr. Harris humbly replied "I feel no different than I felt when I was 90 years old."

Dr. Harris, congratulations on becoming one of our newest centenarians.