Mr Harris graduated from the University of Alabama School of Law in August, 1972 and was admitted to the bar in May, 1973. He was named as the general conservator and the general administrator of estates for Lauderdale County, Alabama on June 30, 1977, by Judge Will Duncan. Having now served under three probate judges over a period of more than 35 years, he has served longer in these positions than any person currently serving in Alabama.
This experience naturally led Mr. Harris into a concentration in elder law, including such things as planning for incapacity, nursing home Medicaid eligibility, estate planning, the use of trusts to maintain eligibility for entitlement programs, protective proceedings, estate administration, and other advocacy on behalf of elderly or disabled persons. Actually serving as a public fiduciary for these years has given Mr. Harris a position of unique experience from which to advise persons who are planning for possible incapacity or are faced with these difficult decisions on behalf of family members.
Mr. Harris is a member of the American Bar Association. He served as President of the Lauderdale County Bar Association in 1980-81. He is a charter member of the Elder Law Section of the Alabama State Bar, and served as chairman of the Section for 1999-2000.
Mr. Harris was born in Scottsboro, Alabama, where he spent his childhood and attended the public schools. At the age of 15, as a member of Boy Scout Troop 18, he attained the rank of Eagle Scout. At age 17 he entered the McCallie School, a boarding, college preparatory school in Chattanooga, Tennessee. His senior year there he was appointed by the headmaster as prefect of the senior dormitory and was named "Most Valuable Lineman" on the football team.
He then attended Washington and Lee University, in Lexington, Virginia, graduating in 1969, with a bachelor of arts degree in political science. While at W&L, he was a member of Kappa Alpha Order, was named to the "Dean's List," and was named as all-conference defensive guard in the Division III College Athletic Conference.
Mr. Harris entered the University of Alabama School of Law in 1969, but active duty training as a medic in the Alabama Army National Guard caused him to miss the second semester of his freshman year. Returning to law school after active duty, Mr. Harris was able to complete enough course work in summer school sessions to graduate at the end of summer school in 1972, in the top quintile of his class.
After law school, Mr. Harris came to Florence, Alabama, where he initially was employed in the law office of Mr. E. L. Colebeck. In 1974 he joined with John Formby and Edward Doggett in the firm known as Formby, Doggett & Harris. This firm began business in the property at 407 South Court Street. The same property is now the home of Harris, Skipworth & King, although the current building was built after fire virtually destroyed the old building in 2002.
Mr. Harris married Lucy Wilson, also of Scottsboro, in 1967, and they have two adult children, Clinton, who graduated from The University of North Alabama, and Rebecca, who graduated from Birmingham Southern College. They are members of First Presbyterian Church, Florence, where John and Lucy are both elders. He has been a member of the Board of Directors of Florence Presbyterian Apartments d/b/a Montreat Apartments for a number of years.
Elsewhere in the community, Mr. Harris has been a member of the Florence Kiwanis Club since December, 1972, having served as President of the club in 1980-81. He has served as editor of the club newsletter for about fifteen years and chairman, for more than twenty years, of the annual All-American Poster and Essay Contest in the schools of Florence and Lauderdale County.
He currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Northwest Alabama Community Action Agency and a member of the Advisory Board of the Florence Salvation Army. He has previously served terms as a member of the Board of Directors of ARC of the Shoals, Inc. Mr. Harris has been a member of the Lauderdale County Democratic Executive Committee since 1978 and has served as chairman since about 1992.
Being a fountain pen collector himself, Mr. Harris is responsible for convincing other collectors to share their miscellaneous collections in the "Downtown Pocket Museum" sponsored by the Design Committee of The Florence Main Street Project, found in the lobby of the Lauderdale County License Commissioner's Office.