Oklahoman's Estate Gift Supports Endowed Scholarship For Baylor's Hankamer School Of Business Students

  • News Photo 4715
    Lee and Millie Harris, who once hosted Billy Graham in their home, loved that Baylor University stands for a strong Christian commitment.
  • News Photo 4714
    Lee Harris was a proud grandfather when he gathered his three Baylor granddaughters, Kristi, Lori and Stacy, for a photo at their bricks in the Sesquicentennial Walkway at Baylor University.
June 4, 2009

Media contact: Lori Fogleman, director of media communications, (254) 710-6275

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Baylor University announced today a significant gift from the estate of Lee and Millie Harris of Bartlesville, Okla., formerly of Oklahoma City, establishing the M. Lee and Millie Harris Endowed Scholarship Fund in the Hankamer School of Business. The scholarship honors the couple's three granddaughters who each earned degrees from Baylor's business school: Stacy Lessman (BBA '93) of Yukon, Okla., Lori Rodgers (BBA '97) of Frisco, Texas, and Kristi Blauser (BBA '00) of Rockwall, Texas.

"I went to Baylor because of my grandfather. He took me to campus when I was in high school, and I just fell in love with Baylor," Stacy said. "Granddaddy knew Baylor was a big part of our success in life, so I am really proud of what my grandparents started with the scholarship and am thrilled for other students to have the same opportunity."

The Harris scholarship perpetuates the legacy that began when Lee Harris (BBA '41) came to Baylor and continued with Stacy and her sisters. Stacy says her grandparents, who used a charitable gift annuity (CGA) to establish the endowment, "were glad for the chance to help someone else have that awesome Baylor experience." The endowed scholarship provides significant support for students pursuing a Baylor business degree who are Christians and have demonstrated high ethical standards.

"This gift will provide, in a very tangible way, support for those students who apply their Christian values in life," said Dr. Terry Maness, dean of Baylor's Hankamer School of Business.

Lee and Millie's decision to support Baylor students was just one part of a life philosophy that centered around living life to its fullest and lifting up others to do the same. Lee and Millie met in California during World War II, where he was serving as a U.S. Navy line officer, and she had moved from Ohio to work for the Navy's photography department. After a three-month courtship, they married June 23, 1944, and had two children, Margaret Harris Lanning and Randy Harris. After the war, Lee Harris started the Oklahoma Independent Meat Packers Association and served as president of Harris Packing Co. in Oklahoma City.

"Grandma was a selfless servant and a great example to us in a quiet sort of way. Granddaddy was that presence in a room you didn't forget," Stacy said. "He was a man of integrity, and people looked up to him as a leader. We believe Baylor was a big part of who he was."

Lee Harris also served 39 years on the Board of Directors for Guaranty Bank, now Coppermark Bank, of Oklahoma City. Lee and Millie were active members of the First Baptist Church of Oklahoma City, before they moved to Bartlesville a few years ago. Millie passed away in February 2009, Lee only one month later. They would have celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary this year.

"What a great way for the Harrises to leave a legacy of a proud Baylor family, using a planned gift to invest in future Baylor students," said Larry Smith, Baylor's assistant vice president for gift planning. "The support of the Harris family through this scholarship will be so meaningful to Baylor business students for years to come."

For more information about using your estate to support Baylor, please contact Larry Smith at (254) 710-2561 or Larry_Smith@baylor.edu.

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