June 27, 1928 – August 11, 2020
A founding partner of Williams Parker Harrison Dietz & Getzen, William T. Harrison Jr. joined the firm (then known as Williams, Dart & Bell) in 1953 after serving as a first lieutenant of a field artillery battery in the Korean War. He continued to practice with the firm for nearly 70 years.
A fourth-generation Floridian, Bill Harrison was born June 27, 1928 in Palmetto to a circuit judge whose territory stretched from Tampa to the southern tip of the state. As a young boy, Bill often accompanied his father as he rode the circuit, trying cases in remote places.
Bill graduated from Palmetto High School, where he played football, marched in the band, ran track, was yearbook editor, and served as class president. He was also an Eagle Scout. He then studied at the University of Florida, where he majored in history, political science, and economics, and earned a combined bachelor’s and law degree in just five years. He also played the piccolo in the marching band and belonged to Kappa Sigma fraternity.
In law school, Bill served as the articles and book review editor of UF’s law review alongside his best friend, George Dietz, who would later become his next-door neighbor in Cherokee Park and partner at Williams Parker. The two friends died within weeks of each other.
Bill had an illustrious legal career. At age 26, he became the Sarasota County Public Hospital Board’s general counsel, a role he continued for more than 50 years. He also served as general counsel for the Sarasota Manatee Airport Authority for more than 20 years. In 1968, Bill was elected president of the Sarasota County Bar Association. He served two terms on the Judicial Nominating Commission for the Second District Court of Appeal and was a member of the prestigious American Law Institute.
Bill was also an active community member and instilled the importance of community service throughout Williams Parker. He was a member of First Baptist Church of Sarasota, where he served as a deacon, trustee, and Sunday School teacher. He served as president of the Boy Scout Council and received the Boy Scouts of America’s Silver Beaver award for distinguished service. He also served as president of the Sarasota Opera and was a strong supporter of Selby Gardens, Asolo Repertory Theatre, and the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast. In 2007, he was inducted into the Community Video Archives for his many contributions to Sarasota.
More on Bill’s life can be read in his obituary as published in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.