Cover photo for James Ryan Harris's Obituary
James Ryan Harris Profile Photo

James Ryan Harris

July 13, 1943 — May 29, 2024


Remember me: Laughing, on a golf cart ride, and an offering on the plate.

James Ryan Harris went home to the welcoming arms of Jesus on May 29, 2024, following a sudden critical illness. Mr. Harris was a resident of Spartanburg County.

1943 - was the first year “pay, as you go” tax withholding in paychecks began for working Americans. A dozen eggs cost 57 cents, a loaf of bread 9 cents, and a pound of bacon 43 cents, with 10 pounds of potatoes costing just 47 cents a bag. “Night Train to Memphis” by Roy Acuff was on the country music charts, and “In Old Oklahoma,” starring John Wayne, was a top movie of the year. In an effort to support the war effort, food vouchers were again required as WWII spread around the world. However, the bright spot in the lives of the late Thelmer and Virginia Harris, a farming couple with a growing family, was the addition of James, born on July 13 that year.

James, a Boling Springs High School graduate, was not just a member of Fingerville First Baptist Church but a dedicated deacon and grounds committee member who lent his voice to the choir for many years. He was devoted to his church and never failed to support it in any way he could through acts of service and giving of his tithes. He believed tithing was an important part of his faith, and even in lean times of his life while working and raising a family, he never failed to send an offering in the plate at church.

His working life was both his hobby and his vocation. Starting out in Jackson Mill in Lyman, South Carolina, James relocated his small family of three to Charlotte, North Carolina, where he worked in the HVAC industry while going to school at night to earn certification in HVAC along with working for Michelin Tire through Kmart. After several years, James relocated back to the Upstate of South Carolina to be closer to family, and with a young family in tow, he began a long multi-decade career in HVAC that span nearly six decades, including 40 years owning his own HVAC business and working up until two months before his earthly passing. His resilience and hard work serve as an inspiration to all who knew him.

In his community, along with other members of the community, James saw the need for a fire department that could serve the Fingerville/Cooley Springs rural areas of Spartanburg County because these areas were without adequate fire service support in times of need. In line with others, James served as one of the founding members of the Cooley Springs Fingerville Fire Department, where he served faithfully in all weather and conditions until retiring from service due to health issues. Still, he always kept an ear to the radio just in case he heard the siren.

If he had a hobby, it was camping. From the first canvas tent, chairs, stove, cot, and sleeping bags, where he swore, he nearly froze on a cold summer night in June in the Cherokee Indian Reservation, he had borrowed everything but the baby in the bassinet as he and his wife had just had a newborn and embarked on their first ever camping trip he was hooked. The cold was not enough to deter him as the camping bug had bitten hard. He spent the next 50-plus years camping throughout North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee with friends and family in a Shasta Travel Trailer, Coachman Travel Trailer, for many years in a Coachman RV Motorhome, and a Toy-hauler Travel Trailer in later years. His favorite places were Pigeon Forge, TN, and Myrtle Beach, SC. He never met a campfire he didn’t enjoy nor a marshmallow he couldn’t burn. And you could always find him laughing and talking around the campfire or riding his golf cart around the campground. Nothing pleased him more than telling stories that got other people laughing, especially those of his youth where mischief and mayhem could be found.

Amidst the years of camping were the years of NASCAR racing. From the early 1980s until the early 2000s, James and his wife traveled throughout the Carolinas, Virginia, Tennessee, and Florida to races, sometimes with a small group and others with an equally large group of NASCAR fans sitting for hours in the stands watching stock car racing and the late Dale Earnhardt Sr, of whom James was a huge fan.

After becoming a widower, James found love and deep friendship with his long-time lady friend, Diane Landford. They spent many hours watching TV, laughing, talking, attending church together, going on day trips, and camping in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. They also participated in 4th of July campground parades riding the golf cart they decorated. They had just packed up the camper to go to the beach for a week, three days before James fell ill.

James is survived by his children: Lisa McAbee and James, Leslie Cooke and Steve, Bryan Harris and Shannon Deaton.

Ten grandchildren: Tanner McAbee and Tamar of New Zealand; Taylor McAbee and Cambrye of Inman, SC; Anna McAbee Davis and Parker of Boston, MA; Sarah McAbee Fisher and Joey of Knoxville, TN; Nicholas Cooke and Whitney of Mt. Airy, NC, Mackenzie Cooke Flippin and Issac of Fancy Gap, VA, Maggie Cooke and Brett Cooke of Mt. Airy, NC, Camden Harris of Inman, SC and Morgan Harris of Boiling Springs, SC.

Eight great-grandchildren: Isabelle, Matthew, and Lucas McAbee of New Zealand, Benjamin and Samuel McAbee of Inman, SC, Ridge, River, and Wrenlie Flippin of Fancy Gap, VA.

Sisters: Hazel Gwinn and Billy, and family of Lyman, SC, and Pigeon Forge, TN, and Joann Quinn and Curtis, and family of Campobello, SC.

Brother: Troy Harris and family of Spartanburg and Lyman, SC and Nashville, TN.

Mr. Harris is also survived by multiple nieces and nephews across North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, and Florida.

Mr. Harris is pre-deceased by his wife, Marilyn Riding Harris, parents Thelmer and Virginia, brother Rothy Harris, parents-in-law Garvin and Evelyn Ridings, and sister-in-law Sherry Ridings Cochran.

Family will receive friends 11:00 am – 11:45 am, Tuesday, June 4, 2024, at Floyd’s Boiling Springs Chapel, 4161 Hwy 9 N., Boiling Springs, SC 29316. Funeral service will follow at 12:00 pm. Entombment will be in Good Shepherd Memorial Park, 4164 Hwy 9 N., Boiling Springs, SC 29316. Services will be conducted by the Rev. Andy Case.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of James Ryan Harris, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Tuesday, June 4, 2024

11:00 - 11:45 am (Eastern time)

Add to Calendar

Floyds Boiling Springs Chapel

4161 SC-9
Boiling Springs, SC 29316

*Standard text messaging rates apply.

Funeral Service

Tuesday, June 4, 2024

12:00 - 1:00 pm (Eastern time)

Add to Calendar

Floyds Boiling Springs Chapel

4161 SC-9
Boiling Springs, SC 29316

*Standard text messaging rates apply.


Tuesday, June 4, 2024

1:00 - 2:00 pm (Eastern time)

Add to Calendar

Good Shepherd Memorial Park - Mausoleum

4164 SC-9
Boiling Springs, SC 29316

*Standard text messaging rates apply.



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