Zola M. (Barnes) Harris was born August 22, 1935 to the parents of Annie (Barnes) Dawkins and Alex Barnes in Eldorado, Arkansas. She was an only child, but grew up alongside her cousins Ola M. Thomas and Hozie Howell, they were inseparable.
At the age of four Zola and her mother were the first of the family to relocate from Arkansas to the Pacific Northwest. They initially lived in the Tri-Cities Washington area but later moved to Portland, Oregon. Zola was an avid reader and excelled academically in school. During her early years of school, Zola was doing so well academically, at her grade level, that it prompted her mother and family to seek academic curriculum that would challenge Zola further. At that time, Due to conflict and unfair reluctancy from the school district, her family scheduled a meeting with the NAACP Board. After which it was resolved that Zola would be afforded the opportunity to move up in grade level. She graduated early from Lincoln High School (now Lincoln Hall at Portland State University.)
After high school, Zola attended business school at Western Business University in downtown Portland and upon completion, she began working for the State of Oregon as an Office Administrative Secretary. There she worked for a few years. She also volunteered in the Oregon Corrections Division.
Later, Zola also volunteered in the Portland School District to help children with Special Needs. As a volunteer, she received a Merit Award for service at Markham Middle School 1975-76 and 1978. Zola was always concerned and cared about the well-being of children. It was for that reason Zola also became a Certified Foster Parent where she and husband Jerry opened their home to numerous children over the years and often to children and families that were not a part of the state agencies. Her heart and home were open to those in need.
Zola was brought up with a sincere love for God. It was at a Saturday night Youth Service that Pastor Roosevelt Thomas, a young minister at the time, Led her to Christ. (not knowing then that they would become family). She accepted the Lord as her personal Savior and served at St. Paul Church of God in Christ in several capacities over the years.. such as the Usher board, Choir Member, Altar Worker, Financial Secretary, Children’s Program Director and President of Young Women’s Christian Counsel. under the leadership of the late Bishop J. C. Foster, Pastor. Zola loved God and the people of God always willing to help.
St. Paul COGIC is where she met her husband, Jerry Harris and they were married in November 1, 1958.
Zola and Jerry became a part of the Community Church of God (now Maranatha) under the leadership of the late Rev. Wendall Wallace. They both continued to serve faithfully in the church ministry at Maranatha under Pastors Bob Harrison, John Parker, John Garlington, Glandion Carney and Dr. T. Allen Bethel. At Maranatha, Zola served in the Hospitality Ministry, Weekly Prayer Meetings, Sunday School Teacher. She also served with the Women’s AGLOW program.
As Zola was brought up with family always willing to be of help to others, she also took on the same interest and was consistently opening her home to those in need. There were always gatherings and fellowships of some sort at the Harris’ home. For over 25 years, it is where her family gathered every January 1st for dinner and fellowship, never departing our separate ways without prayer, praise and hugs. The family theme song became a familiar hymn “WILL THE CIRCLE BE UNBROKEN.”
Zola Will Be greatly missed. She leaves to cherish her memories; her son, Jerry Harris, Jr., his wife Velaida, and their kids(her grandchildren) Chris, Gabrielle and Sierra, her cousin, Hozie, and an abundant circle of family and friends that love her dearly. Deceased prior to Zola, her parents, husband Jerry of 53 years, daughter Andrea, and her cousin, Ola Mae.
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