On March 6, Dr. James Andrew Harrell, Sr., passed away surrounded by his family at the age of 94.
Harrell received his bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1944, and attended the Medical College of Virginia for his dental training. Following his graduation from dental school, Harrell and his wife, Isabel, moved to Elkin, N.C., where he opened a dental practice like his father, Dr. Roy B. Harrell, before him.
Though he didn’t attend dental school in North Carolina, Harrell was a dedicated supporter of the UNC School of Dentistry and passionate about growing dental education in North Carolina. He served as the chair of two of the school’s large fundraising campaigns, the Koury Oral Health Sciences Building Campaign and the Building on Excellence Campaign, and as co-chair of the Bicentennial Campaign, which focused on the construction of the school’s clinical facility, Tarrson Hall. He also served as president of the Dental Foundation of North Carolina. The school honored Harrell by awarding him the UNC Dental Alumni Association John C. Brauer Award, the Dental Foundation of North Carolina Distinguished Service Award, and by establishing the Dr. James A. Harrell, Sr. Leadership and Citizenship Award.
Harrell also served at a University level, acting as the director of the UNC General Alumni Association and also its president. Due to his lifetime of dedication, leadership and service to UNC, the University honored him with the William Richardson Davie Award.
Active in organized dentistry, during his lifetime Harrell was president of the North Carolina Dental Society, president of the American College of Dentists, president of the Academy of General Dentistry and president of the Academy of Dentistry International. He also served as vice president of the American Dental Association. Harrell was recognized by the North Carolina Dental Society in 1984 with their Dentist of the Year Award.
Harrell was involved in his local community outside of dentistry as well. He served three terms as mayor of Elkin and three terms as a city commissioner. He served as president of Kiwanis Club, United Fund, and YMCA, and director for North Carolina Blue Cross and Blue Shield, United Savings and Loan, Yadkin Valley Bank and Trust, Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital, and Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital Foundation. He was an active member of First United Methodist Church, serving as a Sunday school teacher for 60 years.
Harrell was preceded in death by his wife of 70 years, Isabel; and his sisters, Dorothy Reames and Mary Bullard. He is survived by his children Dr. James A. Harrell, Jr., and wife, Barbara; Dr. Gavin Harrell and wife, Margie; Dr. Stephen Harrell and wife, Terry; and Ms. Deborah Kirkman; his nine grandchildren; and his 12 great-grandchildren. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial contributions be made to Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital Foundation (180 Parkwood Dr., Elkin, NC 28621).