Philip Harrison

Philip Burns Harrison

Thursday, April 3rd, 1919 - Friday, May 29th, 2020
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Philip Burns Harrison passed from this earth on May 29, 2020. Philip was born on April 3, 1919 in a hardware store in Stanton, Ky to Howard and Chaney (Burns) Harrison. Around the age of six, Philip, his parents and three brothers, moved to Berea so his father could help with the family dairy farm. Philip’s father also served as the Berea College forestry agent, which had a lasting influence on Philip and shaped his love of gardening and animals - especially growing tomatoes and raising chickens. He and his three younger brothers grew up in Berea, in the log cabin that still stands at the foot of the Pinnacles at Indian Fort Mountain.

Philip attended Silver Creek Elementary School, Berea Academy School and graduated from Berea College with a degree in agriculture. He made eight cents per hour as a work-study student. While in college, Philip started his first business called Berea Seed Growers, which distributed tobacco and corn seed to nearly 20 counties. He maintained the business for many years.

While at Berea College, Philip met his future wife, Fanny Wilder, of Bell County, Ky. They married in 1947 after a long courtship and had three daughters.

After college, Philip’s entrepreneurial drive led him to open Harrison Farm Supply. That business eventually became the Berea Southern States store, which he owned for more than 50 years. He also ran the Berea Food Locker and a retail grocery store. Other businesses include selling chickens, eggs and blackberries as well as roofing and guttering. His businesses made him a community leader, and he was supportive of the 4-H program and individuals in need. Over the years, his various businesses employed hundreds of individuals. In addition to his generosity and good nature, Philip was well-known by many in Madison County for the vegetable gardens, healthy mums and chickens he raised. He also raised goats, pheasants, pigs, rabbits and German Shepherd puppies.

Philip and Fanny lived life to the fullest. He loved music and dancing – especially square-dancing. They danced whenever they had an opportunity and always attended local events. On more than one occasion, photos of Philip dancing made the front page of local newspapers. At his 100th birthday celebration in 2019, he enjoyed a special performance of a song written for him by Pam Perry and Wayne Combs from his daughter Ronda’s point of view.

Faith played an important role in Philip’s life. He was baptized on February 26, 1942 at Berea Baptist Church. He was the church’s oldest member and served as an usher for over 70 years. Oneida Baptist Institute in Clay County, Ky also held a special place for Philip, as his maternal grandparents were among the school’s founders and both of his parents worked there.

Philip was always open to try new things. At the age of 95, he started beekeeping, which he did for nearly two years. At age 97, Philip became a resident at Berea Health & Rehabilitation, where he remained engaged with a sharp mind. He enjoyed books and worked with his daughter, Ronda, and a writer on a memoir titled Conceived in a Cave, Born in a Hardware Store, to record stories from throughout his life. The book is available for purchase on

At his 100th birthday party, Berea Mayor Bruce Fraley presented Philip with a city proclamation recognizing his contribution to the community which read in part, “You set a good example of the importance of hard work and industriousness for everyone who knew you, and you paved the way for future generations of Bereans. You have made a positive and lasting mark on our city and local economy. We owe you a debt of gratitude, and it is my hope that my generation and future generations will continue to build a Berea that would make you proud.”

In addition to his parents, Philip was preceded in death by his brothers, John Russell Harrison, Roger Dean Harrison and Joseph Lee Harrison.

Philip is survived by his wife of more than 72 years, Fanny Harrison of Richmond, Ky and his three daughters, Brenda Williams (Jack) of Richmond, Ky; Teresa Kruse (Calvin) of Rapid City, South Dakota; and his “biggest fan” Ronda Taylor (Randy Gourley) of Richmond, Ky. He is also survived by four grandchildren, Kenan Kruse of Phoenix, AZ, Jill Carney (Richard) of Knoxville, Tn; Brian Williams (Jonda) of Richmond, Ky; and Colby Taylor of Cincinnati, Oh.

The family will welcome friends for visitation on Saturday, June 6, 2020 from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. at Berea Baptist Church with a funeral service following at 1 p.m. at the church. Burial will follow at Berea Cemetery with Kevin Slemp officiating. Restrictions previously in place have been relaxed and anyone who would like to attend are encouraged to do so.

Pallbearers are Randy Gourley, Colby Taylor, Winford “Wink” Starnes, Bart Harrison, Greg Taylor and Jack Williams. Honorary pallbearers are the Baraca Sunday school class at Berea Baptist Church.
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Service Details

  • Visitation

    Saturday, June 6th, 2020 | 11:00am - 1:00pm
    Saturday, June 6th, 2020 11:00am - 1:00pm
    Berea Baptist Church
    310 Chestnut Street
    BEREA, KY 40403
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
  • Interment

    Berea Cemetery
    500 Oak Grove Ct.
    BEREA, KY 40403
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email


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Tanya Baker Witt and Deanie, Sara and family sent flowers to the family of Philip Burns Harrison.
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Tanya Baker Witt

Posted at 10:50am
With deepest sympathy and caring thoughts during this difficult time.
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Tanya Baker Witt purchased the Blooming Garden Basket and planted a memorial tree for the family of Philip Harrison. Send Flowers


Connie Cates Jackson

Posted at 12:18am
One of my first jobs was working as a co-op student, for Mr. Harrison, at his roofing business. He, Fanny and I set up a booth at Mount Sterling Court Days saling art pictures. One of the kindest and most precious men. The last time I saw him he still remembered me. Warm memories, thoughts and prayers for his family.

Deanie, Sara and family

Posted at 10:54am
We are thinking of you.
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Deanie, Sara and family purchased flowers for the family of Philip Harrison. Send Flowers


Sandra Moore

Posted at 09:53am
We are so sorry in the loss of Phillip.He was a fine man and what a life he had.He will surely be missed.May you feel God's comfort.Praying for all of you.With Deepest Sympathy Sandy and Steve Moore and The Lakes Family.

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