Posted by William Nunnelley on 2009-09-28


Ben F. Harrison, a longtime supporter of Samford University for whom the school’s theatre is named, died Saturday, Sept. 26, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.


Harrison was a Birmingham business leader who served 37 years on the Samford Board of Trustees, beginning in 1971.  He was vice chairman of the board and chairman of the executive committee for two years (1990-1992), and also served as chair of its business affairs committee (1985) and investment committee (1994-1995).


He joined then-President Thomas Corts and trustee Ben Brown and their wives in identifying the property that became Samford’s London Study Centre in 1984.  The property, now known as Daniel House, was one of 14 sites the group visited.


Samford’s Ben F. Harrison Theatre was named in his honor in 1987.


Harrison, from Greenville, Ala., was the former chief executive officer of U.S. Pipe and of U.S. Home.  He later served as chairman of the board and president of Harrison Industries, Inc., a diversified company he formed in 1976.


Harrison was a tank driver with the U.S. Army during World War II, serving in the Philippines.  He attended the University of Alabama under the G.I. Bill after the war and earned his accounting degree in two and a half years.   


As a stalwart friend of Samford, Ben Harrison played a significant role in many of the important developments in the life of the institution over the past three decades,” said Samford President Andrew Westmoreland.  “He was a visionary leader with a deep commitment to our academic program. Along with members of the Harrison family, we mourn the loss.”