The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

October 29, 2012

Family, performers remember Harris for a life of helping others, entertaining

By B.J. Drye, Editor

Monday, October 29, 2012 — Charles Hubert Harris overcame many obstacles in his life, but his family says his greatest attribute was helping others overcome obstacles, whether it be through entertaining or working to save someone’s life.

He battled heart issues, lymphoma and other health problems, and survived an injury atop a former grain silo, but it was the after effects of a heart attack that claimed his life Thursday.

On Friday afternoon, several family members spoke about his life and his impact on others.

Albemarle City Council-woman Martha Sue Hall, Harris’ daughter, talked about how his police career helped save lives.

She said one man who Harris had repeatedly stopped for driving while impaired, later told her how he had cleaned himself up, and that it was Harris who led him that way.

Another story Hall told was of Harris saving a boy who had almost completely cut his leg off. As a first responder Harris held the boy’s leg together until they made it to the hospital. Later, she said, the boy became a track star at South Stanly High.

After retiring as assistant police chief for Norwood in 1989, Harris devoted much of his time to entertaining, another way of helping others.

“He never met a stranger. Once you met him, you never forgot him. Most people I’ve ever met know of him,” said granddaughter Morgan Hall Schultz.

Schultz talked about how she grew up at a place called Chollywood, which for nearly 20 years was a music and dance scene in Norwood.

“I was probably there 90 percent of the weekends from when I was born until I went to college,” she said.

“It was like stepping back in time. When you were at Chollywood, all your problems were gone.”

Son Charles David Harris spoke of how Chollywood’s name originated.

“Dad said, ‘Dolly has Dollywood, so why not Chollywood?’ ” This incorprated a phonetic interpretation of Charles — Cholly — and the last half of Norwood. Thus in the late 1980s, Chollywood was born, entertaining several regular guests, as well as visitors from far as Japan and New Zealand.

“There were as many as 15 band members at one time,” Charles David Harris said.

“He definitely enjoyed his retirement playing music.”

In addition to playing at Chollywood, the elder Harris would perform at festivals, Maness Music Barn near Carthage, Hwy. 705 Music Hall in Seagrove and other places.

In fact, Harris drove to Fuquay-Varina to perform last Sunday afternoon.  So in his last days, he was still entertaining others.

“We started playing when we were young,” Charles David Harris said, “kind of like a bluegrass Partridge Family.”

While bluegrass, country and gospel were his main forms of entertainment, the patriarch did step out of his comfort zone on a few occasions to dabble in theatre.

Albemarle resident Martha Chapman was director and music director for the Uwharrie Players production of “Cotton Patch Gospel.” She asked Harris to perform the musical part.

“It was the first time I had ever asked non theatre people to participate with that,” Chapman said Saturday morning.

She gave him a script to read over and finally agreed to take part.

“He just made that production. We loved having him there and he talked about how he loved being there,” Chapman said.

“He just came right him and fit right him and added so much to our production.”

Chapman said he brought his band to play along.

“He could play anything I needed, and if he couldn’t do it, he could find somebody that could.

“He just had such a great attitude. We just loved him.”

Son Tracy Lee Harris spoke of his father’s willingness to provide for his fellow man, such as cutting down trees for firewood so someone in need would be able to heat his home and his fundraising to battle leukemia.

“He knew how to pinch a penny, but he was so helpful in knowledge,” Tracy Harris said.

He would go prisons as a Gideon and some of the inmates would write letters thanking him.

“He was a dreamer of big time dreams, and a lot of them came true,” Harris said.

“He loved life, he loved music, he loved people,” Martha Sue Hall said.

“Daddy was probably the most determined person I have ever known.”