For over 40 years, Ronald Alvin Harrist, Sr, or “Ron,” as he was known from his byline and by friends and colleagues, left his mark on Mississippi through journalism. He wrote scores of stories that elevated life in this rural state to the national eye during a time when civil rights tension tore through the fabric of our state’s heart. Even amid this rocky terrain, Ron found balance and fairness, seeking truth through the eyes of the people he interviewed. Perhaps his greater contribution, took place behind the scenes, though as Mississippi’s state news editor not only making sure every “i” was dotted, but also through his patient professionalism shaping the careers of young journalists in MS and beyond.
More indelible than his 41-year mark left on Mississippi’s news, however, was that left by the goodness of his life and the love he had for his God, his church, his family, his 2 sons, and his adored wife of 56 years, Hendra Harrist. A devoted grandfather his two grandchildren lovingly called “Seed,” Ron expertly helped with English papers, proudly attended ball games and watched cheer competitions, and is fondly remembered by his grandchildren for his loving and positive attitude-win or lose, rain or shine.
Born in Tampa, Florida, Ron moved with his family to Brandon, Mississippi, when he was a child. There he would meet his future wife Hendra Moudy and start his family. Ron was extremely active in his church serving as a Sunday school teacher, Assistant Scout Master, church deacon and church moderator owing to his steady, kind demeanor and ability to meet each person he met with kindness and patience. Like his work at the Associated Press, much of his dedication to the church was done quietly behind the scenes with a giving and cheerful heart.
Ron was diagnosed with leukemia and died due to complications of his illness on May 9th at home surrounded by his family. He is survived by his wife, Hendra; his sons, Al and Andy and wife, Tara; his grandchildren, Eli and Alaina; his brother Charles N. Harrist and wife Susan; his brother-in-law Henry Moudy and wife Minnie as well as many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his mother Helen Ostberg, his father Charles N Harrist, Sr, and his grandchild, Quinn Connelly Harrist.
Graveside services will be held at Crestview Memorial Gardens at 11:30am on Tuesday May 12th and officiated by Bro Steve Wilson of Meadow Grove Baptist Church. The family respectfully asks all who attend to respect social distancing guidelines for everyone’s safety. In lieu of flowers, please consider a memorial donation to the Meadow Grove Baptist Church building fund or to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society at lightthenight.org.
Ott and Lee Funeral Home in Brandon, MS is handling arrangements.
To plant a tree in memory of Ronald Alvin Harrist, please visit our tribute store.