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Leaving a legacy

Halifax County lost one of its most generous benefactors last Tuesday with the passing of Eva Jean Maddox Harris who died at her home at the age of 71.  

Her husband, Robert Lindsay ‘Bob’ Harris, preceded her in death.

She leaves behind a legacy that will not soon be forgotten in this county.

For it was Mrs. Harris and her family who were responsible for donating the land and buildings that today house the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center, The Prizery and The Innovation Center. 

The retired owner-operator of Yancey Wholesale Supply made her most recent donation when the family gave the 46,000 square foot “Bag Factory” building to the Halifax Education Foundation in December 2007. Today that old warehouse building has become this area’s prized Innovation Center, home to the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center’s newest signature programs and headquarters for workforce development. It houses Workforce Services @SVHEC, the SVHEC’s signature Business of Art & Design programming and the R&D Center for Advanced Manufacturing & Energy Efficiency (R&D CAMEE). 

Mrs. Harris’ generous donations over the years also resulted in development of the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center that today makes it possible for hundreds of area residents to further their educations and take advantage of opportunities that otherwise would never have been available here.

Her donation of the warehouse building that underwent renovations beginning in 2002 to transform it into The Prizery now provides a center for many community activities that bring pleasure to people of all ages. 

The 38,000 square foot building includes a welcome center, a performing arts theatre, an art gallery, classrooms and a large space for community functions.

The renovation was accomplished while keeping the look and openness of the building intact and preserving its rich tobacco history. 

As a centerpiece of the historic warehouse district in downtown South Boston, The Prizery has become a magnet for tourism and provides performing and exhibiting space. 

Its location next door to the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center makes its facilities a natural extension for the colleges.

And none of this would have been possible but for Mrs. Harris’ kind donations throughout her lifetime.

For all of this, we are a thankful community.

Mrs. Harris’ legacy will live on for many years to come in the lives she has touched and will continue to impact through her generous gifts.

We extend our heartfelt sympathy to her son, Robert Michael Harris, and his wife, Donna, of South Boston; her two grandsons, Ryan Michael Harris and Grayson Lindsay Harris, both of South Boston; her step-granddaughter, Stacey M. Owen of Durham, N.C.; and her three sisters, Thelma Lee Barrett and husband Richard of Tupelo, Miss., Gloria Diane Shumate and husband Frank of Kings Mountain, N.C. and Linda Sue Maddox of South Boston.

Anyone wishing to remember Mrs. Harris is asked to consider making a contribution to the Halifax Educational Center, 820 Bruce Street, South Boston, VA 24592 or the Patrick Henry Boys and Girls Home, Post Office 1328, Brookneal, VA 24558.