WICHITA FALLS, TX (TNN) - Former Wichita Falls Mayor Charles Harper,89, passed away on Friday, January 25 from Parkinson’s disease.
Harper was born in 1929. He was a native of Botham, Texas.
He was a U.S. Air Force veteran and served from 1948 to 1950.
Harper graduated from the Texas Tech School of Architecture in 1955.
In 1963, he moved to Wichita Falls from Lubbock.
His friends describe him as a tireless advocate of the Falls. He aided his neighbors after ’79 Tornado.
He walked on the rubble the disaster left behind. With the help of the Texas Tech Wind Research Institute, he developed the idea of an “in-house” shelter after they research of what happens in a wind storm. Architects said it rewrote the book on how to survive a tornado and hurricane.
“That helped save many lives," Sam Kenshalo, a friend of Harper’s for 44 years, said. "He would be the first one they would call in a disaster to go help. We would go to these places in a disaster and go to tell them how to build and to build strong shelters.”
Harper began help his community through civil service. He was a member of the Wichita Falls City Councils from 1983 and served for three years. In 1986, he was elected as mayor. A year later, his friends said Harper achieved his proudest moment.
“He wanted to do The Falls [the city’s waterfall]," Kenshalo said. "He was the leader of that initiative and got it built.”
He served as mayor for two years.
He continued to work in architecture at Harper Perkins Architects Inc., until he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease five years ago.
“He wanted to live long enough to take care of Betsy [his wife of 63 years]," Lillie Campbell, a friend of Harper’s for 17 years, said. "Betsy was his everything.”
His friends and family said goodbye to him last Friday.
“We knew he was very sick and had been sick for a while," Campbell said. "It was sad but we also knew he was not afflicted with his sickness and he was in a better place.”
“Good and faithful servant, a man of integrity and a man with a big heart," Kenshalo said. "Huge heart.”
Harper is remembered by his wife, sons Martin and Mark.
His funeral is set at 2:00 p.m. on Friday, February 1 at First United Methodist Church of Wichita Falls.