Cover photo for Robert Earl Harrison's Obituary
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1934 Robert 2023

Robert Earl Harrison

July 23, 1934 — December 30, 2023

Atoka, TN

Robert Earl Harrison, age 89, of Atoka, passed away on Saturday, December 30, 2023.  Robert was born on July 23, 1934 in Obion County, TN to Freddie B. and Hilda Carroll Harrison.  He was the second of six children and grew up attending Woodward's Chapel Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Obion, TN.  He later attended Covenant Presbyterian Church in Memphis and Salem Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Atoka.

He is survived by his loving wife of 65 years, JoAnn Jones Harrison; four children, David Earl Harrison, Ronald Wayne (Sherri) Harrison, Laurie Ann (Steven) Leslie and Amy Carol Ward; eight grandchildren, David Trent Harrison, Robert Edward "Bobby" (Stephanie) Harrison, Lindsay Brooke (Tyler) Wright, Austin Trey (Kelly) Harrison, Lauren Blake (Jon-Michael) Davis, Tanner Shae Harrison, Henry Chandler Ward and Lilly Noelle Ward; three great grandchildren, Grant Easton Harrison, Avery Lynn Harrison and Colton Eli Harrison; one brother, Lester (JoAnne) Harrison and three sisters, Norma Ruth Jones, Wanda Sanders and Brenda (Bill) Brewer.

Robert is preceded in death by his parents, Freddie B. and Hilda Carroll Harrison and one brother, James Carroll Harrison.

In 1953, Robert joined the Air National Guard and was later accepted in the Air Force Pilot Training program where he underwent flight training and ground school.  After pilot training was completed, he was assigned to Vance Air Force Base in Enid, OK where he began flying the North American T-28 with emphasis on instrument flying.  He then moved up to the North American B-25 and focused on formation flying.  On March 30, 1955, he graduated from pilot training with a commission and as a 2nd Lieutenant and was later promoted to Captain.  He attended Memphis State College as a pre-engineering student and was later hired as an air traffic controller.  He continued to fly with the Air National Guard flying the Douglas B-26 wi a focus on night photo reconnaissance. In the spring of 1956, he began transitioning to jet aircraft where he flew the Lockheed T-38, F-80 and Republic RF-84.

Robert was working as an air traffic controller in Memphis whe the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was created in 1958.  In early 1963, he was accepted as a Flight Inspection Pilot with the FAA in Meridian, MS and joined the Mississippi Air National Guard.  Later he transferred to the Central Aircraft Dispatch office in Atlanta, GA and then to the FAA Flight Standards Office in Memphis where he conducted flight tests, accident investigations and regulation enforcements.  In 1984, he obtained a rating for the Boeing 727 and began conducting tests with Federal Express pilots where he was appointed Principal Operations Inspector for Federal Express.  He retired from the FAA on September 1, 1989.

Robert and JoAnn married on June 14, 1958 and had 65 wonderful years together.  He loved his whole family, friends and was a faithful servant to God.  He loved hunting, gardening, watching baseball and writing poetry.  He had a mischievous sense of humor and embraced life to the fullest. The light of his presence among us will be greatly missed, be we will be reunited in Eternity.

Funeral services will be held at 12 noon on Thursday, January 4 at the Covington Funeral Home chapel.  The family will receive friends two hours prior to the services.  Interment services will be held at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, January 4 at the Zion Cemetery in Obion, TN.  

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Robert Earl Harrison, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Thursday, January 4, 2024

10:00am - 12:00 pm (Central time)

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Funeral Service

Thursday, January 4, 2024

Starts at 12:00 pm (Central time)

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Graveside Service

Thursday, January 4, 2024

Starts at 2:30 pm (Central time)

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