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William Thomas "W.T." Harris
William Thomas (W. T.) Harris, of the Harris Teeter grocery store chain, was a prominent businessman, self-made millionaire, Baptist devotee, politician, and community advocate
Harris moved to Charlotte in 1934 and landed a job with A&P Self Service Food Store, where he quickly rose to store manager. Two years later, in 1936, he opened his own grocery story on Central Avenue, called Harris Food Store. Governed by religious devotion and strong ethics of honesty and straightforwardness, Harris’ grocery business grew and expanded across the Charlotte area until its merger with Teeter Super Markets of Mooresville, NC in 1960. Harris Teeter quickly became a multi-million dollar company and is currently headquartered in Matthews, NC. William Thomas Harris later served as President of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce in 1966.
In addition to his successful business pursuits, W. T. Harris made great contributions to the Charlotte community. As devout Baptists, the Harris family were frequent attendees of the church where W. T. Harris volunteered for over 26 years as teacher and later superintendent of the Sunday School. His religious beliefs carried over into his business and political pursuits, focused mostly on his rejection of alcohol, in the community and in his Harris Teeter stores (repealed by company board members in 1971).
As a Mecklenburg County Commissioner, Harris led the movement for a statewide public kindergarten system, which passed in 1973, and advocated for teachers.
In 1966, Harris was given the Charlotte News Man of the Year award, followed by the Mayor’s Special Citizenship Award in 1967. A boulevard going from north to east Charlotte was named in honor of him.