Deacon Elton Clemont Harrison III., who served St. Peter and St. Raphael in Pine Bluff and St. Justin Church in Star City for more than 20 years as the only black deacon in the diocese, died Jan. 26 after a long illness. He was 73.
He was born March 13, 1944, in Americus, Ga., the first of four children to Elton C. and Juanita Maxwell Harrison. Harrison graduated from Holy Rosary Institute of Lafayette, La., and earned a bachelor’s degree from Southern University in Baton Rouge, La., according to his funeral home obituary. He served in the U.S. Army and went on to earn a master’s degree in business administration from Texas Southern University. He continued his studies at Harvard University and Tulane University in New Orleans.
Throughout the years he worked at college campuses, including as an adjunct professor at Southern University at New Orleans, assistant director of planning at Tulane University and purchasing director at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. He also worked at IBM as a computer programmer and later as contract administrator at the Pine Bluff Arsenal.
Harrison married his college sweetheart, Nola Cluse, on June 26, 1966. They had three children. Devoted to the Catholic faith, he was a member of the third diaconate class for the Diocese of Little Rock and completed his ministerial internship at the Varner Unit with the Arkansas Department of Correction. Harrison was ordained April 24, 1993, and celebrated 25 years of service in 2018. He was also one of 25 people accepted to the first pastoral administrator’s program for the diocese and was one of 11 who received certification in 1998.
He is survived by his wife; one son, James Harrison II; one daughter, Dr. Juanita Fleming; and four grandchildren.
A vigil was held Feb. 3 and a Mass of Christian burial Feb. 4 at St. Peter Church in Pine Bluff. Burial will be at Louisiana National Cemetery in Baton Rouge.
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