Charles A. Harris                 Inducted 1993 - Class of 1941

What goes around comes around. In Charles' case, his unselfish dedication has paid him back a hundredfold, earning him both state and national recognition.

Charles started off as many Woodward students do --attending Spring Elementary School. He lived just four blocks away from Woodward on Maywood Avenue.

Attending the Home of the Polar Bears until 1941, Charles’ inner circle included Bill Copeland, Ivar Williams, Edgar Dubois, Ernie Cook, Gracie Burroughs, and John Shoecraft.

"My favorite memories of Woodward revolve around the basketball teams that had Bill Copeland, Earl Ford, Mike Campbell, and others. Coach Homer Hanham always had good teams and to be in the audience was thrilling!"

Looking back on his high school days, Charles attributes his inspiration to excel to three teachers: Mrs. O'Brien, Mr. Meeks, and Mr. Phipps. "I believe Mr. Phipps affected me most profoundly. He stressed and demanded preparedness, was always business oriented and professional - a polished gentleman. Later in my life, I realized his temperament, organization, and understanding were all attributes that could lead to success. "

He obviously was led in the right direction. After graduating from Woodward, Charles earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science, graduating cum laud from San Francisco State University. He also studied on the graduate level at Columbia University's School of Business.

As a military man, Charles spent 23 years on active duty. He advanced through the ranks to a final rating of lieutenant colonel. Upon his retirement in 1966, he had held a variety of high-level positions. In fact, his security clearance was top secret. While serving in the military, Charles was awarded the Bronze Star, Army Commendation Medal, Good Conduct Medal, and a number of other certificates of achievements.

In 1966, he joined IBM as a purchasing trainee. By the time he retired last year, Charles had been promoted to program manager, government and community relations. The Woodward grad was frequently asked to review IBM's equal opportunity situations and provide proper recommendations. Charles' record as a highly successful IBM executive, earned him such awards as: *General Products Division President's Award for "Excellence As A Way of Life;" *Personal Achievement Award from IBM's Corporate Headquarters for "Leadership, Professionalism, and Excellence;" and *Corporate Award for the production and release of "No Intermission," a movie on affirmative action.

As one of California's corporate leaders, Charles attended a White House Forum on Supported Employment that encouraged the utilization of disabled employees.

Last summer, Governor Pete Wilson commended Charles for his work as the Chairman of California Governor's Committee for Employment of Disabled Persons and the Senate of the State of California passed a resolution commending him for his outstanding contributions to disabled persons in California. Both the California State Senate and State Assembly have applauded Charles for his outstanding contributions made to Santa Clara County and his involvement as a member of the Private Industry Council for more than15 years. He served as its chairman for four years.

Charles' civic appointments include: *Chair of California Governor’s Committee to Hire Disabled Persons; *Chairman of Santa Clara Private Industry Council; *1982 President of Boys City Boys’ Clubs--Santa Clara County; and *Member of the Board of Directors Boys City Boys' Club of San Jose.

It would appear that Charles does not have much free time. When he does squirrel away the hours, he enjoys cooking, traveling, and playing golf and bridge.

This very civic-minded citizen has been married to Precida for 43 years. They have one daughter, three sons, ten grandchildren, and one great grandchild.

©2020 Woodward Alumni Hall of Fame

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