Norfolk man remembered for big heart, love for the Cowboys

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – You are about to read who 51-year-old George Harris was: he’s gone, but he leaves behind lots of co-workers down at Chesapeake’s Department of Public Works, family members and friends who will always remember him.

George Harris was a beloved man, and affectionately called ‘Big Daddy.’ He loved the Dallas Cowboys and he loved his wife Barbara who is broken hearted,

“I’m glad I had the opportunity,” she puts her hands up to her mouth, cries, turns around, pauses, then turns back around to finish her thought, “I’m glad I had the opportunity to be a part of his life. I really am, even though it was cut short.”

George’s life was cut short on Johnstown Road when Courtney Horan fled a police stop for not having an inspection sticker. We asked police whether launching a chase is worth it for an expired inspection sticker. Spokesperson Kelly Elliot told us, “We would never continue a chase, but this one ended quickly like within a mile, within a minute. It ended as soon as it began.”

We’ve been investigating why would Courtney Horan who is now charged with second degree murder in George’s death flee police.

We discovered Horan, 27, of the 900 block of Armfield Circle served time for robbing a New Jersey bank with his brother. His mother was also arrested for harboring her sons when police were looking for them. A newspaper account back in 2014 called the robbery “A Family Affair.”

Horan was on parole for that robbery when he got arrested again for larceny which is a parole violation, and a warrant for Horan’s arrest was issued. It is presumed by Chesapeake police Horan feared he would go back to jail, so he fled to avoid arrest, and then crashed head on with George Harris. Ironically, Barbara actually had discussed crashes with George, “I always teased my husband for driving a truck. I would tell him you don’t need to worry because you are in a trash truck. I worry about the other guy.”

What sad irony and tonight a 79-year-old mother weeps, and Harris’ daughter and his granddaughter weep, and his extended family through Barbara also weeps.

George’s mother Annie Harris who told us she carried on a conversation with her son Tuesday evening, “I told him yesterday, son I love you, I know you can’t hear me, but I love you. I said why did you have to leave me?”

We met Annie on the porch of her house. She holds a picture of George’s Norview High School graduation picture. “He was a loving child. Everybody loved him. He got along with everybody he got into contact with.”

Barbara and George actually met over a trash container, “George use to be my trash man,” she said with a hearty laugh. “I use to give him water as he passed by and he would leave the containers nicely in my yard when he dumped it.” They had a great love, and there is great sorrow that he is gone.

Annie spoke with George by phone most every morning and they did so on Tuesday. Hours before he died, “we prayed about what we wanted GOD to do for us, and to keep us strong, and help us to understand different things. I don’t understand all of what happened,” Annie told us.

George Harris also liked to sing in church choirs, and Barbara told us his death hit home at 4 Wednesday morning when she woke up, and realized Big Daddy wasn’t coming home.

George was bigger than life, “He loved the Dallas Cowboys. I said Jesus and the Cowboys,” Barbara laughs. Sundays were big days to celebrate in the Harris Household. NFL Football Sunday. “He would be in the kitchen cooking, and getting ready for the Sunday game. All the kids would be excited, and they know Big Daddy’s going to make a big meal, and we don’t disturb him during that time,” Barbara told us.

George was a big guy, but he also had a huge soft side, “George was a great guy, and knowledgeable. That’s what they called it in our neighborhood. He was always giving a kind word, always ready to help somebody. He was a great Dad and a great husband, Barbara said.